Quince Orchard Makes Great Gains in Victory

Quince Orchard running back Travis Hawkins breaks free for a 56-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. The sophomore finished with 127 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
Quince Orchard running back Travis Hawkins breaks free for a 56-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. The sophomore finished with 127 yards rushing and three touchdowns. (By Preston Keres -- The Washington Post)
By Alan Goldenbach
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 18, 2006

Pepper Coe said he spent the first half of the season with one eye on his opponents and the other on his impressive statistics from last season. Quince Orchard's senior quarterback admitted he was worried about trying to better his impressive junior season instead of just improving the rest of his team.

He stopped thinking about numbers a month ago, and last night wound up leading one of the most dominating offensive displays in recent memory. Coe threw three first-half touchdown passes and helped the Cougars put up 535 yards of total offense in a 54-21 home victory over defending Maryland 4A champion Damascus in the 4A West Region semifinals.

"I hadn't had the season I wanted," said Coe, who completed eight of his first 11 passes to four different receivers for 200 yards and three touchdowns. "I got into the habit of looking down on [some teammates], but now I love them all."

Was he too concerned with his stats? "You could say I was," Coe said.

It will give Coe another chance to quiet those who doubted him earlier this season.

"People kept saying that I'm slow, I'm not that accurate, I'm not that good," said Coe, who has completed 42 of 68 passes for 796 yards, 8 touchdowns and 1 interception the past four games. "I guess it lit a fire under me. I'm making reads I haven't made all year, and now's the time to do it."

Despite spotting No. 18 Damascus (8-3) a 21-14 lead midway through the second quarter, No. 6 Quince Orchard (10-1) scored touchdowns on each of its first seven possessions and did not punt until the opening minute of the fourth quarter.

Starting with a two-yard touchdown run from Damascus's Evan Zedler at the end of the opening drive, the first six possessions of the game ended with touchdowns. It seemed to be a matter of who would make the first and perhaps costliest mistake.

Two plays after Quince Orchard's Travis Hawkins scored on a 56-yard run to make it 21-20 (the Cougars missed the extra point), senior Tommy Korotky made a leaping interception on a deep pass at the Quince Orchard 30. Six plays later, Hawkins scored from eight yards out. A successful two-point conversion followed to put the Cougars ahead for good, 28-21.

"They were obviously a better prepared team than we were," said Damascus Coach Dan Makosy.

Quince Orchard rushed for 335 yards, and spread it evenly. Hawkins, just a sophomore, had 127 and three touchdowns on 12 carries. Senior Ulysses Gaston had 100 and a touchdown on 12 carries. Freshman Ben Sasu had 85 on 11 carries.

"We tried to use our speed around the edges," Quince Orchard Coach Dave Mencarini said. "We got the ball in our guys' hands who can make plays."

No. 6 Quince Orchard 54 No. 18 Damascus 21 Been a Long Time: Neither of Damascus's statisticians remembered the last time the Hornets allowed even 40 points, much less 54. When Damascus lost to Quince Orchard, 35-28, on Oct. 7, it was the most points it had allowed since a 32-6 loss to Gaithersburg in 2001. Up Next: Quince Orchard will visit No. 4 Northwest in the region final. The Cougars are seeking their first state semifinal appearance since winning the 4A title in 1991.

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