But if Eagles Coach Tom Petre could draw up every first half like that, he would.
North Point jumped out to a 25-point lead to end the half after a 70-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and a blocked-punt scoop-and-score. As safety Malachi McMillan said, who needs offense when you have defense and special teams like that?
“This is a big deal for us, special teams,” said McMillan, who ran back that kickoff and had an interception in the third quarter. “We don’t slack off on that.”
But the Eagles didn’t skimp on offense, either.
Jones capped a 65-yard, 17-play game-opening drive with a 37-yard touchdown pass to Jon Riley. A possession later, he hit sophomore wide receiver Malik Lawrence for a 49-yard score off a smooth play-action fake, then ran in the two-point conversion.
“He’s keying in on some things at the snap,” Petre said of his quarterback. “And when he gets them right, he makes some great plays.”
At least in the first half, Lackey (1-1) didn’t have many of those plays to speak of. The Chargers finished the second quarter — in which they ran 27 plays — with 65 yards of total offense. Quarterbacks Robert Middleton, a sophomore starter, and Wesley Johnson, a junior, didn’t complete a pass until the game’s final play, when Johnson hit junior fullback Demontae Owens for 23 yards over the middle as time expired.
In what is billed annually as perhaps the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference’s most physical rivalry, Lackey hasn’t beaten North Point since 2007.
The Chargers were bent on changing that coming into this game, and racheted up their physical play to rattle Jones and the Eagles’ offense. Early, at least, it didn’t work.
“We never take this game for granted,” Jones said. “We always get up for it.”
Their enthusiasm showed. After a second-quarter Lackey field goal drive, McMillan returned the ensuing squib kickoff for a score. He shouted to his position coach on the sideline before the play that if the ball came to him, he’d take it all the way.
Five plays later, Dante Grant burst through the Chargers’ line and swatted down a punt, then cradled it in the end zone before the rest of the field’s 21 players knew what had happened.
“Those are effort plays in our book,” Petre said.
Senior tailback Malik Burns exploded in the second half for Lackey after just 29 first-half yards rushing. He finished with 181 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown. Senior tailback Khyree Hart also ran for a second-half touchdown and finished with 59 yards on nine carries.