Despite its victory over Westlake last week and its spotless record, Thomas Stone's football team still felt like an underdog heading into Friday's Maryland 3A quarterfinal game against the Wolverines. The 12th-ranked Cougars wanted to prove they deserved to be Southern Maryland Athletic Conference champions, and they said last week's six-point margin of victory wasn't enough.
Friday's 41-12 victory was.
Third-seeded Thomas Stone (11-0) dominated the second half and advanced to the state semifinals, where they will host No. 7 seed Randallstown of Baltimore County at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Randallstown defeated Milford Mill, 14-6, in overtime on Friday.
"This is what you get when you come to our house," shouted senior All-Met running back Marcus Whalen--who had 166 yards and a touchdown--from the sideline in the last minute of the game. "We came to play tonight, baby."
The Cougars broke open a 13-6 game on the first possession of the second half. Whalen ran 40 yards on the opening play of the drive, to Westlake's 26. Four plays later, Whalen took a pitch and ran around left end--a play that seemed to pick up at least 10 yards every time the Cougars ran it--for a 13-yard score. His run for a two-point conversion made it 21-6.
Before last week, Westlake could do no wrong against Thomas Stone, winning all four previous meetings.
But after Whalen's score, it seemed Westlake could do no right--the Wolverines fumbled in their own territory on their next two possessions.
Although Thomas Stone did not score off the turnovers, the Cougars did gain momentum.
In the past two games, Westlake committed five turnovers; Thomas Stone had none.
"We were just stuffing them at the line," Thomas Stone Coach Richard Callahan said. "We knew if they were hit hard, they were likely to put the ball on the ground, so we went after it. It took them four years to get a four-game win streak over us. It took us just one year to get a two-game win streak on them."
The Cougars extended their lead to 27-6 with 7 minutes 47 seconds left in the game on a one-yard run by Finamore.
The Wolverines answered on the following possession with a 53-yard touchdown run by senior Denis Hicks (15 carries, 173 yards), but that was as close as the game would get.
On the following kickoff, the Wolverines tried an onside kick, but the ball sailed over Thomas Stone's front line and fell into Whalen's arms.
Whalen returned the kick 40 yards to the Westlake 20-yard line. Finamore scored two plays later on a 17-yard run up the middle.
Thomas Stone rounded out the scoring with a two-yard run, this one by sophomore Mark Johnson, with three minutes to play. Westlake began to show frustration after the failed onside and was whistled for three unsportsmanlike penalties afterward, four total for the game.
"Turnovers hurt us the first game, and they hurt us tonight," said Westlake Coach Dominic Zaccarelli, who said he was disappointed with the way his players handled the end of the game. "That and the penalties. In big games, you just can't make mistakes like that."
Westlake 0 6 0 6--12
Thomas Stone 6 7 8 20-41
TS--Buddenbender 3 run (run failed)
WL--Hicks 57 run (pass failed)
TS--Finamore 39 interception return (Finamore kick)
TS--Whalen 13 run (Whalen run)
TS--Finamore 1 run (run failed)
WL--Hicks 53 run (pass failed)
TS--Finamore 17 run (Finamore kick)
TS--Johnson 2 run (Finamore kick)
Leading rushers--WL: Hicks 15-173; Evans 6-27; TS: Whalen 24-166; Finamore 7-34; Johnson 3-20.
Leading passers--WL: Johnson 7-15-1 59; TS: Buddenbender 1-3-0 5.
Leading receivers--WL: Gunderson 3-31; Chisley 2-15; TS: Fields 1-5.