After a 27-yard pass on fourth and 27 from sophomore quarterback Tyler Crounse to junior receiver Laron Gross, Lee scored on a three-yard run to give Patuxent a 34-28 lead, then returned an interception 35 yards for a touchdown on Calvert’s next offensive play.
Lee intercepted another Calvert pass in his own end zone on the Cavaliers’ next drive, then led the Panthers down the field where junior running back Rafiq Douglas scored on a short run to put the eventual 48-35 win out of reach.
“My coaches were talking to us about how we had to keep striving,” Lee said. “That was a turning point for us, and I wanted to do whatever it took to help my team win.”
Lee finished with 238 rushing yards and four total touchdowns as the Panthers (8-1, 6-1 Southern Maryland Athletic Conference) clinched a spot in the 2A South playoffs for the second year in a row. They will lock up the region’s top seed and a share of the conference title with a Week 10 win at Leonardtown (4-5, 4-3) next week.
Calvert (6-3, 4-3) was eliminated from the competitive 2A South race with the loss, but the Cavaliers threatened Patuxent behind 267 yards passing and four touchdowns by senior quarterback Jermaine Hunter and 152 receiving yards and three touchdowns on six catches by senior receiver Tavi Thomas.
Hunter’s first two touchdown throws to Thomas tied the game at 21-21 before halftime, and the third touchdown pass tied the game for the last time at 28-28 in the third quarter.
“At the time, I was letting my secondary hear about it,” Patuxent Coach Steve Crounse said. “But looking back at the film, the two of those kids made tremendously athletic plays.”
Westlake (7-2, 6-1) earned a 46-0 win over Great Mills (1-8, 1-6) to remain in the hunt for a share of the SMAC title, and potentially for the top seed in the Maryland 3A South region, in which Huntingtown and Westlake have already clinched playoff spots.
North Point (6-3, 4-3) kept its slim playoff hopes alive with a 59-7 win over La Plata (1-8, 0-7), but the Eagles will need to beat rival Westlake in Week 10 and get help to clinch a playoff spot for the fifth straight year.
The playoff scenarios for Howard haven’t changed. Just like last week, a win Friday night will secure a spot in the Maryland 3A East region for the Lions. The only difference will be their opponent.
Howard will play host to the undefeated Hawks Friday night with a trip to the postseason on the line for the Lions. River Hill has been rolling in the month of October, shutting out each of its last four opponents by a combined score of 177-0. The Hawks defense hasn’t allowed a touchdown since the first quarter of its Sept. 28 win over Glenelg, but Howard running back Michael Anderson said he’ll try to keep his teammates upbeat as they prepare for Friday’s showdown.
“A lot of kids on the team, they think that we’re done and we don’t have a chance, but me and some other players on the team, we still believe that we can beat River Hill,” Anderson said. “So what I’m going to do is have a big conference with my teammates and try to talk them up, like we can beat this team. Anything can happen.”
Anderson, a senior, said that with school closed and practices washed out in Howard County at least through Monday, he would attempt to organize a captain’s practice to help his team prepare for River Hill. The Lions have showed bursts of offensive dominance this season and have scored 28 points or more five times, including a 62-point outburst against Long Reach in which Anderson rushed for 286 yards and scored five touchdowns. It’s a performance that the senior said he’ll try to recreate Friday.
“You never know what can happen with football. Anybody can beat anybody,” he said. “All we got to do is believe and have our confidence up, because we can work miracles.”
The win was the 200th of Markiewicz’s 25-year coaching career, a stretch that has included stints running the football programs at Chesapeake, Meade and North County before arriving at Arundel. Markiewicz said he didn’t know he was approaching the milestone until last week when he looked at Arundel’s football Web site, which hadn’t been updated since last year, and saw that he had entered the season sitting on 191 career victories.
“I appreciate it, but we’ve had good coaches and good players over the years. I’ve worked for some good administrators and principals that have allowed me to do what we feel is the right thing,” he said. “It took a long time and it happened and I’m pretty proud of it, but we got a lot of other things we got to get done.”
Markiewicz said he didn’t inform his players of the potential milestone before the game and that there was no announcement at the game following the victory. Still, the news leaked out on the team’s Twitter feed and for the second time in his career, the coach was awarded a game ball by his team.
“One of my players gave me the game ball and congratulated me. I don’t know if they saw it on Twitter or whatever. I don’t know how they found out,” said Markiewicz, who was similarly honored by his players at North County when he guided the Knights to a state championship in 1994. “They didn’t give me a real game ball because they like the game balls, so they found one in the bag, one of the air locks that they don’t like, and gave me that one. But I’ll take it.”