Bull­dogs Ousted In Re­gion Fi­nal

Elks roll to sec­ond Class 2A East cham­pi­onship in last three years

Times-Record - - SPORTS - Need By DAVID INSLEY dins­[email protected]­dem.com

RIDGELY — On the same Fri­day as the na­tion’s long­est win streak came to an end in the Class 2A West foot­ball cham­pi­onship, an­other up­set took place in the 2A East.

Weath­er­ing two lead changes early in the first half, No. 2 seed Elk­ton rolled past un­beaten top seed North Caro­line, win­ning 24-13 to seize the pro­gram’s sec­ond re­gional crown in three years.

“Two in three sea­sons, yeah,” said Elk­ton head coach Matt Feeney, whose team erased a 7-3 sec­ondquar­ter deficit with three straight touch­downs, hand­ing the Bull­dogs (11-1) their only loss of 2018. “We’ve seen them three times over the last four years, and we knew we’d have a tough fight on our hands.

“They’re there ev­ery year, man,” Feeney added. “They’re tough.”

Elk­ton (10-2) got things go­ing with a quick drive off the open­ing kick­off, a 52 yard pass by quar­ter­back Nolan Null to Trevin Ewing set­ting up a 30-yard Jake Bosler field goal which put the guests up 3-0 just over two min­utes into play.

“You want ev­ery point; you

ev­ery point, es­pe­cially when you’re play­ing a team like this,” Feeney said. “But they re­sponded. They came in, and they put up some points . ... But we’re just blessed that we’ve got some guys that are re­silient.”

The Bull­dogs had no an­swer on their first pos­ses­sion, though it started well, with a 25-yard Joey Bild­stein carry on the first snap putting the team at mid­field. The teams ex­changed punts, and the hosts got things go­ing the sec­ond time around.

Set­ting up shop at the Elk­ton 47 five min­utes into the game, the Bull­dogs moved into the red zone five plays in, thanks to a 24-yard Bild­stein run. He took it around left end on the next snap, scor­ing from seven yards out, and Will Man­ship kicked the point-af­ter to make it 7-3 with 5:04 to go in the open­ing frame.

The Elks moved well on the next drive, but were even­tu­ally brought up short on fourth down at the Caro­line 28. A cou­ple more un­event­ful pos­ses­sions led to a 7-3 home-team lead af­ter one, but in the sec­ond quar­ter, ev­ery­thing changed, on both sides of the ball.

The North Caro­line de­fense, which had stymied op­pos­ing rush­ing at­tacks in a Bay­side Con­fer­ence not known for pass­ing, found it­self fac­ing a three-di­men­sional threat, with Null able to nearly pin­point re­ceivers for much of the night.

The com­bi­na­tion of a strong pass­ing at­tack and a run­ning scheme which proved more than ad­e­quate, too, led to two big scores by the Golden Elks.

With re­peated suc­cess at pass plays and a steady diet of solid gains on the ground, Elk­ton took the lead — for good, as events later proved — when Null found DahMear Triplett back in the left cor­ner of the end zone for a four-yard score. The Bosler PAT made it 10-7.

The vis­i­tors ex­tended their lead with an­other touch­down at the five-minute mark, a 7-yard run by Tashawn Wat­ters.

Bosler, an All-Ce­cil-County star in soc­cer in 2017 who left the pitch to kick for the foot­ball team this fall in­stead, nailed that PAT, too, to make it 17-7. The 10-point mar­gin marked the great­est deficit the Bull­dogs had seen all sea­son; they trailed

just twice all year, 3-0 in Week 8’s win over Eas­ton, and 7-0 the next week af­ter vis­it­ing James M. Ben­nett scored on the game’s first pos­ses­sion.

As the sec­ond pe­riod wound down, what both coaches agreed was the big­gest play of the night took place.

North Caro­line, driv­ing af­ter the sec­ond Elk­ton touch­down, con­verted a fourth-and-7 from the guests’ 39-yard line when quar­ter­back Casey Byrd, dou­bling as team punter, faked it and hit J.B. Brown in the left flat for a 29-yard gain, to set up first-and-goal at the 10.

Ryan Bauer, who played lock­down de­fense as a cor­ner­back all night, bat­ting away no fewer than four Null passes, which oth­er­wise looked right on the money to in­tended re­ceivers, dashed 9 yards on the next carry, to the 1-yard line. A flag for il­le­gal mo­tion led to a sec­ond-down try from just out­side the 5-yard line, which net­ted Bauer 2 yards.

A Byrd over­throw into the rear left cor­ner of the end zone set up a fourth-and­goal from three yards out.

Af­ter the in­com­ple­tion, North Caro­line head coach James McCormick called a time­out, the Bull­dogs need­ing to put points on the board to cut the deficit.

Know­ing his team would re­ceive the sec­ond-half kick­off, McCormick chose not to set Man­ship up for a 19-yard field goal. In­stead, he chose to go for it. His logic, when asked, was sim­ple.

“I thought of it, but knew we couldn’t. We weren’t go­ing to win the game by kick­ing field goals,” McCormick said. “With their [Elk­ton’s] abil­ity to put points on the board, we just couldn’t kick a field goal.

“And we’ve been able to make it from a cou­ple of yards out all year,” McCormick added. “If we can’t make this, then we’ve got to work on some things. This is the kind of stuff we’ve been able to do all sea­son, punch it in from a yard out.”

But it was not to be this time, as Bauer rolled left on a sweep, but was knocked down by the speedy Aaron Hawkins, who met him a yard short of the end zone, forc­ing a turnover on downs.

“Oh, that was it,” Feeney said of the stop. “That was def­i­nitely the big­gest play of the game right there. It kept us up two scores, we go into the half ahead by 10.”

“That was the big­gest play,” McCormick agreed. “If we can score on that, it’s a three-point game, we come out sec­ond half and any­thing’s pos­si­ble.”

The Elks locked down on de­fense in the third quar­ter, al­low­ing just two home-team first downs as the Bull­dogs, the cold wind blow­ing at their backs, threw just two third-quar­ter passes.

“The guy were just so strong on de­fense tonight,” Feeney said. “We knew we’d have a fight here — no­body comes to North Caro­line High and blows them out. No­body comes here and wins by 30-40 points. You know you’re gonna have a big bat­tle, and I’m proud of our guys for fight­ing the way they did.”

The com­bat­ants traded in­ter­cep­tions in the fourth quar­ter, North Caro­line pick­ing off Elk­ton, but then giv­ing the ball right back in the same man­ner on the next snap. Ewing’s 42-yard touch­down pass in the fourth pe­riod put the game all but out of reach. The Bosler PAT ef­fec­tively served as the fi­nal dag­ger, as it made the score 24-7 — a three-score game — with un­der seven min­utes to go.

North Caro­line put to­gether a fi­nal scor­ing drive, capped by a two-yard Bauer run. The two-point con­ver­sion failed, set­ting the score at its even­tual fi­nal mark of 24-13, Elk­ton.

Elk­ton ad­vances to the Class 2A state semi­fi­nals next week and will play at Oak­dale, the West champ.

In per­haps the most heav­ily-hyped Mary­land high school play­off game of the week, Oak­dale up­set host Da­m­as­cus, the fourthranked team in the state’s me­dia poll, 24-7, for the 2A West ti­tle Fri­day. The win by Oak­dale ended a 53-game win streak by the Hor­nets, who had won three straight ti­tles: the 3A in 2015 and 2016, and the 2A last year, dur­ing that run.

Oak­dale, ranked sixth in the state me­dia poll, de­feated 2017’s 3A champ, Linganore, on the road as well, 56-7, in Week 6.

PHO­TOS BY DUSTIN HOLT

North Caro­line’s Casey Byrd throws a pass for a com­ple­tion Fri­day against Elk­ton.

North Caro­line’s Mon­treyse Deshields finds a hole against Elk­ton Fri­day, Nov. 16.

North Caro­line play­ers Tucker Stevens (4), Carl­ton John­son (48) and Ken­dron Way­man (7) stuff Elk­ton run­ning back Tashawn Wat­ters Jr. on Fri­day.

PHO­TOS BY DUSTIN HOLT

North Caro­line’s Will Man­ship finds a hole Fri­day against Elk­ton.

North Caro­line’s Ryan Bauser runs out­side for a first down against Elk­ton Fri­day, Nov. 16.

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