Quince Orchard linebacker Marcus Newby blind-sided an unaware Northwest player on a punt in the first half of Friday night’s Maryland 4A West region final, and after the crushing hit, the Jaguars’ gunner lay on the field motionless. The crowd fell silent, and Northwest Coach Mike Neubeiser ran onto the field to check on his player — then yelled across the field at his childhood friend and Quince Orchard Coach Dave Mencarini, who screamed back.
This old and rich Montgomery County rivalry had all the makings to be a playoff classic in Gaithersburg — but No. 9 Quince Orchard was clearly the more physical and nasty team from the outset. Tyrell Williams ran for 123 yards and two touchdowns and wide receiver D’Andre Johnson added three touchdowns as the Cougars rolled to a 41-7 win over the 20th-ranked Jaguars.
“That’s the key to any game. You have to more physical at the line of scrimmage,” Williams said, “Or else you’re not going to win.”
Williams grinded Northwest down, but it was Johnson who was electrifying on both sides of the ball in the opening minutes of the game. After a botched punt left Northwest’s defense pinned deep on the game’s first possession, Johnson took a reverse 21 yards for the game’s first score — then followed that play with a fumble recovery several minutes later, which he ran down the left sideline for a 25-yard touchdown.
The hit from Newby came on the following possession, a play in which the standout linebacker (eight tackles, one batted down pass) was flagged 15 yards for a personal foul. Mencarini berated him on the sideline for the hit — but a furious Northwest sideline couldn’t reverse the momentum.
“Newby is a physical football player. He just plays as hard as he can,” said Neubeiser, whose player was able to walk off the field a few minutes after the hit. “It is what it is.”
Williams was the thunder to Johnson’s lightning the rest of the night for Quince Orchard (11-1). He atoned for an early fumble in the first quarter with a 15-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter to make it 21-0, and Quince Orchard’s defense sacked Matty Callahan three times after Northwest had advanced deep into Cougar territory on the ensuing possession — forcing a punt and setting up a Johnson 55-yard sweep touchdown run several plays later that put the game on ice. Williams added 61 yards rushing on the opening possession of the second half — capped by a two-yard score to make it 41-0.
Callahan finished with a season low 59 yards passing, and Northwest (8-4) had just two possessions in the second half. The Cougars advanced to next weekend’s Maryland 4A semifinals.
“[Neubeiser] has done such a great job with the program at Northwest. We may have won this time, but the longer he coaches, it will swing back the other way,” Mencarini said. “There isn’t anything better than practicing on Thanksgiving Day. We’re not done yet.”