3A West Regional Semi-Finals
November 12, 2011
In true playoff fashion, the more nuanced aspects of the game of football differentiated the Damascus Hornets (9-2) and the Linganore Lancers (7-5) on Veterans’ Eve all the way down to the pigskin itself.
Trailing 13-12 in the fourth quarter, the Lancers mounted a six-minute drive beginning at the Damascus 44 yard-line that stalled after three straight plays from inside the Hornet 10 proved fruitless. On came John Dearstine for Linganore to kick anything but a routine 22-yard field goal. The snap was good, the hold was good and Dearstine’s kick seemed to be destined to split the uprights. Then the unthinkable happened. The ball popped.
In believe-it-or-not fashion Dearstine’s kick spun like a popped balloon and did not make it past the Hornets’ front line which blocked two of the Linganore senior’s attempts earlier Friday night.
“He’s a tough kid. He’ll be ok,” Linganore head coach Rick Conner said of Dearstine holding the now U-shaped football in his left hand and freely gesticulating with it. “We battled and fought and I’m proud of these kids. These are the kids I love to coach and they did a great job for us.”
Deondre Jolley pounced on the deflected (and deflated) kick for the Hornets and returned it to the Lancer 41 yard-line where Damascus’s powerful rushing attack could put the game on ice. However the Linganore defense forced the Hornets to punt with 46 seconds left and the Lancers took over at their own 20. But with 80 yards to go and no timeouts the Lancer offense floundered and quarterback Kyle Jennings Hail Mary attempt six plays later fell short of the goal line.
“From the very beginning special teams was our number-one thing,” said Damascus head coach Eric Wallich. “We knew we were going to be a low scoring team so special teams and defense are what we preach and we work as hard as we can on it. We thought that could be and edge for us and it looks like it was.”
Damascus was paced offensively by runningbacks Trevor Patton (17 carries, 120 yards) and Caleb Baisden (17 carries, 49 yards, touchdown). Quarterback Eddie Cooke directed over half of his throws to standout receiver and University of Maryland recruit Zach Bradshaw (5 catches, 55 yards, touchdown).
Meanwhile the Lancers potent rushing attack had the Hornets on the ropes all night. Fullback Tyler Thompson (28 carries, 119 yards, 2 touchdowns) was a bruising presence while scat-back Andrew Jones (9 carries, 65 yards) worked effectively on the outside and showed bursts of speed in the secondary.
“We got to limit our mistakes like offsides and making personal fouls and stuff. We preach it and we try to practice it, but you just can’t simulate the game,” a happy, yet unsatisfied Wallich said afterward. “But if we can cut down on that stuff, I think we can beat anybody.”