For 17 seconds last Friday night, the Quince Orchard football team was behind in a game for the first time this season, as upstart Richard Montgomery scored on the game’s initial possession and took a 7-0 first quarter lead.
Clearly, the Cougars didn’t like it.
On the ensuing kickoff, QO’s explosive linebacker and return specialist Charles Bell picked up the dribbler at the 15, burst through a hole, and raced down the right side to the end zone to tie the score. QO would score four more touchdowns before RM scored again and topped the Rockets 62-14 to remain undefeated at 6-0.
“We knew they were going to come out and play the best game they could play,” said senior running back Marquez Cooper. “So they weren’t going to roll over easy.”
Cooper scored five touchdowns to give him 20 on the year and gained 136 yards on 22 carries. QO also scored on Bell’s kickoff return, Toddreis Baltimore’s 50-yard return of a partially blocked punt, a pick six by Ryan Barnes, and a one-yard touchdown run by Brandon McBride Jr.
Junior QB Brian Plummer connected on several long pass plays to senior wide receiver Ryan Swigart and senior tight end Justin Moran to set up QO scores.
This was the third time this season QO has scored 60 or more points, and the fifth time over 50. The Cougars have allowed only Richard Montgomery’s two touchdowns and one by Damascus earlier in the season, and are ranked third—and top among all public schools—by The Washington Post.
The game didn’t start like it would end in a blowout. The Rockets seemed to catch QO off-balance in their opening drive, moving smartly downfield behind their run-pass option plays and several times drawing the Cougars offsides with their shifting at the line. They scored on a 13-yard touchdown pass to grab a 7-0 lead at 6:21.
“I kind of underestimated their offense a little bit,” admitted junior linebacker Jeremiah White.
Richard Montgomery’s magic faded quickly following Bell’s kick return, however. The Rockets fumbled the kickoff after a nice return, the Cougars recovered near midfield, and drove downfield to go ahead on Cooper’s two-yard scoring run on the second play of the second quarter. On their next possession the Rockets failed to convert on fourth and six, QO took over, Cooper’s nine-yard run made it 21-7 with 7:13 left in the half, and the rout was on.
QO’s defense adjusted to RM’s quick-hitting attack, and more or less contained the Rockets for the rest of the game. The Rockets revived briefly in the third quarter with a drive capped by a 36-yard scoring pass, but by then the score was 35-14.
“They just played like they’re supposed to play,” said QO coach John Kelley about his team’s bounceback. He blamed “mental errors” for both RM touchdowns.
“You make mistakes against teams that are good, they’re going to capitalize on them. We made two mistakes and they scored two touchdowns.”
“Sometimes it’s not fun when you’re constantly blowing people out, so our kids were definitely ready for a challenge,” Kelley said. He noted that this was only the second time all season the starters played almost the entire game, “so it was good for us to get out here tonight and
Kelley’s players also appreciated RM’s fight.
“We don’t see that much adversity through the year with the teams we just dominate,” Cooper said. “We needed that as a team so we could have adversity going into the playoffs when we play Wise, Northwest and people like that.”
“That was a good game and made us work,” said White. “That was good for us.”
QO’s match the previous week against Clarksburg was no contest from the start. Bell scooped up a Clarksburg fumble on the second play of the game and trotted 18 yards for a score, and the Cougars were up 21-0 by the end of the first quarter and 49-0 at the half on their way to a 56-0 final.
Cooper had three touchdowns on runs of two, 84, and 58 yards and gained 214 yards on only 11 carries. Plummer tossed touchdown passes to Moran and White, but otherwise went 5-13 for 102 yards with an interception.
Plummer said afterward that he was disappointed with his performance, “but I’m going to just keep on working in practice and just work on getting better.” His performance against Richard Montgomery suggests that he did just that.
One highlight for QO against Clarksburg was 285-pound senior nose tackle Dejon Robinson’s 70-yard interception return for a touchdown.
“It felt amazing,” said Robinson, for whom it was his first career touchdown. He outran several would-be tacklers near the end of his jaunt and credited “summer workouts” for the sustained speed. “All them sprints in the heat paid off in the game.” He also said he had “more energy, more boost” playing against his former school, Clarksburg.
Kelley said he and the coaching staff are going to focus on cleaning up errors as the team gets ready for its annual showdown with Northwest on Oct. 27 and the start of the playoffs in November. Penalties have continued to plague the Cougars, as they had three unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in addition to several offsides and some key holding calls.
“We’re going to fix that this week,” the coach said determinedly.