With All-Met running back Marcus Whalen nursing an injured ankle, Mike Finamore and Phil Buddenbender assumed new roles for Thomas Stone's football team Friday night against Northern. They played their parts well and led the Cougars to a dominating 34-0 victory over host Northern.
Finamore moved from quarterback to running back and gained 90 yards on 13 carries. He played alongside Whalen, who reaggravated a sore ankle in the third quarter, eventually finishing with 78 yards on 11 carries. Buddenbender stepped in at quarterback and passed for two touchdowns and ran for two more.
"When Coach [Callahan] told me I was moving to running back, I was excited," said Finamore, whose 43-yard touchdown run gave the Cougars a 20-0 lead midway through the second quarter. "Running back is my natural position. . . . I knew that [Northern] was going to be keying on Marcus, and I knew I could have a big game."
Thomas Stone improved to 3-0 overall, 2-0 in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference. Northern fell to 0-3, 0-2.
Thomas Stone scored on three of its first four possessions. Senior lineman Charles Thomas got things started, recovering a Northern fumble on the 50-yard line. Eight plays later, Buddenbender faked a handoff to Whalen and ran around right end for a one-yard touchdown.
Two minutes later, Buddenbender faked another handoff to Whalen and headed up the left sideline for a 44-yard score, giving the Cougars a 13-0 lead late in the first quarter.
The Cougars added two touchdowns in the second quarter to take a 27-0 halftime lead. Finamore scored on his 43-yard burst and Buddenbender threw a 55-yard touchdown pass to sophomore flanker Anton Washington. For the night, Buddenbender completed three of seven passes for 77 yards.
After a scoreless third quarter, Thomas Stone put the game away in the fourth. The Cougars marched 53 yards in five plays, scoring on an 11-yard pass from Buddenbender to senior tight end Mike Farland.
"Last week, we only threw one pass, so it was nice to mix it up a bit," said Callahan. "I thought Phil did a good job tonight. He showed some speed running the ball, and he threw a couple of nice touchdown passes."
Northern's best drive came early in the third quarter. After forcing Thomas Stone to punt after three plays, the Patriots marched 60 yards in 11 plays.
But the drive stalled at the Thomas Stone 15-yard line, when senior running back Albert Rice was tackled behind the line by junior linebacker Jessie Turner on fourth and inches.
"I thought our defense played really well," said Callahan, who buys his team doughnuts every time they shut out an opponent. "Mike Farland and Marcus Warr had some nice sacks for us, and Gamal Sheard intercepted a pass. . . . They really wanted a shutout. At halftime, that's all they talked about."
Note: Whalen came into the weekend as Southern Maryland's leading rusher, with 502 yards and six touchdowns on 43 carries. . . . It was the second time in three games that Northern was shut out. The Patriots lost to Douglass in the season opener, 32-0.