Sometimes a good team can gain a lot more from a hard-fought, well-played defeat to a very good team than it can from a no-contest, crushing victory over an outmatched opponent.
That’s what Quince Orchard hopes after trouncing Kennedy, 53-0, last Thursday before a sparse crowd on the road, just six days after an intense but unsuccessful 42-41 overtime defeat in its first-ever regular season game against a private school team, Bullis, in a packed and frenzied Cougardome.
“We did what we’re supposed to do,” Coach John Kelley said after QO dominated Kennedy. The Cavaliers actually stopped QO on their opening drive, but shortly thereafter QO converted a Johnny Hodges interception into a 6-yard Doc Bonner to Hodges touchdown pass and the onslaught was on. QO led 40-0 at halftime and played their reserves for the entire second half in raising their record to 4-1.
The Bullis contest was different, perhaps one of the most dramatic non-playoff games ever in the Cougardome. Bullis entered at 3-0, unranked by the Washington Post but still considered a good private school team that many fans thought would beat the 9th-ranked Cougars.
They looked bigger and faster than QO, jumping to a 21-7 halftime lead as QO could only score on a 59-yard fumble recovery and return by Hodges. The Cougars hurt themselves with penalties and a fumble after a long gain.
But “we came out in the second half swinging,” Kelley said. They marched 95 yards on their first possession behind running backs Marquez Cooper and Tre Wade to fall one score behind on Cooper’s 9-yard run. But Bullis took the ensuing kickoff back 95 yards.
Then QO parlayed another long drive into a 3-yard Bonner TD near the end of the 3rd quarter, and both sides of the Cougardome, including members of the 2007 QO state champions who were honored at halftime, were rocking.
Bonner scored again from the nine with 6:23 in the game, but his two-point run for the lead fell short as officials called him down before he extended the ball over the line. Bullis replied with a 16-yard scoring pass on 4th and 8, and it was 35-27 with 2:19 left.
On the following play, Bonner scrambled then heaved a long pass down field to a wide open Brian McGonagle for a 72-yard score. The QB hurdled into the end zone on the ensuing two-point play to tie the game at 35.
QO had a chance to win the final minute when stalwart defensive lineman Desmond Johnson recovered a fumble. They drove to the two and Bonner appeared to spike the ball to kill the clock for a final play, but officials ruled he fumbled and time ran out.
Bullis scored on their overtime possession. Bonner connected with McGongale to answer, but when QO again went for two and the win Bullis pressured Bonner into an incompletion.
“I’m glad we played this game,” said Kelley. “Week four, we’re in a dogfight for four quarters. We didn’t come out on the right side and I’m proud of my kids. … They showed a lot of character. … But a loss is still a loss.”
“(A tough loss) can either hurt teams or make teams,” said Hodges. “And especially that type of loss, how we really came back, how we unified, I think it can really help us.”