The focuses for Leonardtown in last week’s practices were character, sacrifice and a fighter’s mentality. The Raiders knew going into Saturday’s trip to Westlake it would take more than a well-played game to hold off the Wolverines — it would take a fight.
In the end, it took a quarterback change, a standout performance from wide receiver Damian King and, as expected, a fighting mentality on both sides of the ball for the Raiders to pull ahead.
King scored the go-ahead touchdown with 1:31 remaining to help Leonardtown (5-2, 4-2 Southern Maryland Athletic Conference) pull out a 13-12 win, its first against Westlake (4-3, 3-2) since 1997.
Westlake was “in control most of the time,” Leonardtown Coach James Klenk said. “They were very strong and very fast up front, and our offensive line just needed a spark.”
With the Raiders down 6-0, Klenk put in senior quarterback Cortez Bush for the second half for his first reps of the season.
The Leonardtown defense was on the field for about twice as long as the offense, Klenk estimated, but it wasn’t until the end of the third quarter that Westlake broke through again for a 14-yard touchdown pass to go ahead 13-0.
On the ensuing kickoff, King prepared for a return. He saw an opening in the middle of the field and went 95 yards, cutting to the outside for a touchdown.
“Damian is a great player, and that’s what great players do,” Klenk said. “They seize the moment. He was our juggernaut, and we loaded him and got him the ball.”
Bush found King for the decisive 15-yard touchdown pass, and kicker Doug Baumann came through with the extra point for the winning touchdown
“Everybody probably thought that was probably luck,” King said. “But I thought it was skill and determination.”
The Raiders’ receiving corps was taking the pressure off the offense, Klenk said, snagging passes in traffic and taking punishment for it from the larger, faster Westlake defense. The Raiders pulled in 10 total receptions for 130 yards.
King, a two-way starter, said the Leonardtown defense was most challenged by Westlake’s running game and senior quarterback Antwaine Carter Jr.
Leonardtown’s second straight win was crucial after back-to-back losses to Huntingtown (6-1, 6-1) and North Point (5-2, 5-2). The Raiders will next play in their Homecoming game Friday against Northern (4-3, 4-3).
“This gives us a lot of confidence,” Klenk said. “Hopefully our kids understand now that we can hang with anybody.
“If we can hang with Westlake and take them, then we can take anybody down. We just have to come out with the same mentality.”
Hammond ends River Hill’s streak
Hammond (5-2, 5-2) pulled off an upset against then-No. 5 River Hill (6-1, 6-1) to snap the two-time defending Maryland 3A state champion Hawks’ 30-game winning streak. Quarterback Tyler Martin went 31 for 41 for 441 yards and six touchdowns in the 47-38 win. . . .
Howard overcame an 11-point halftime deficit to beat visiting Centennial, 29-26, and give Coach Bruce Strunk his 100th win. The Lions (5-2, 5-2 in Howard) joined River Hill as only the second team to keep Eagles running back Walter Fletcher to fewer than 100 rushing yards in a game. A crucial interception return from linebacker Ronald Lee tied the game in the fourth quarter. With the loss, Centennial (5-2, 5-2) dropped behind Reservoir (5-2, 5-2) in the Maryland 3A East region points standings.