Monocacy Valley Athletic League

Linganore Overcomes Seven Fumbles to Top Thomas Johnson

By Darren J. Gendron
Gazette Staff Writer
Saturday, October 31, 2009; 12:12 AM

The Linganore football team chose the less damaging of mistakes to make, beating host Thomas Johnson, 24-14, on Friday.

The Lancers (9-0, 3-0 in the Piedmont-Black Conference of the Monocacy Valley Athletic League) had seven fumbles rob them of scores. But the Patriots (5-4, 1-2) were just as destructive, racking up 10 penalties for 99 yards, which included back-to-back penalties and an ejection of Coach Ben Wright.

With four seconds left in the first half, Linganore senior place kicker Alex Eckard was mentally preparing for a 40-yard field goal attempt. A defensive holding call moved the Lancers 10 yards closer, enraging Wright. It was the sixth penalty called on the Patriots in the first half, and the second time the defense was called for holding.

Eckard then went from setting up a 30-yard field goal to a 15-yarder, but after Wright's ejection, Linganore switched to a fake kick. Bizarrely, as time ran out, the Lancers were called for holding on the play, pushing the ball back to the 20 again. Officials allowed one more play, and Eckard finally got his kick, which he missed from 30 yards.

"I think it took half an hour just to get that kick off," Eckard said. "With the game starting and stopping, and then the penalties, it's hard to keep your concentration in that. All those interruptions, they can get to you."

Eckard was a bit annoyed with the miss. This season he's been padding his state record for career points by a place kicker. Going into the game, he was up to 185 extra point kicks. After touchdown runs of four, 13 and two yards from senior tailback Kevin Myers, Eckard added three more kicks. He also had a 23-yard field goal in the first quarter.

The Lancers were fully ready to run directly over the Patriots. Myers ended up with 30 carries for 168 yards, while senior running back Zach Zwinak had 157 yards on nine carries.

"It keeps going on," Myers said. "Whether it's a good call or not, we've just got to trust the coaches. Coming into this game, we focused on their defense and how they played, and my play was always open."

But neither of the backs was immune from the fumbles. Zwinak fumbled on the Thomas Johnson 18, only to have Patriots junior Richard Newman scoop it up and run 82 yards for a touchdown.

Going for redemption on his next carry, Zwinak ripped off an 83-yard run. However senior defensive back Brandon Brownfield caught up to him at the 5, and again Zwinak fumbled. This time, the ball went out of bounds in the end zone, giving Thomas Johnson the ball back.

Myers fumbled in the fourth quarter when senior linebacker Nick Forbes ripped the ball out his hands mid-tackle. Forbes also scored on a 13-yard touchdown.

This story is from The Gazette group of community newspapers published by Post-Newsweek Media, a unit of The Washington Post Co.

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