La PLata 7,
Thomas Stone 6
After 10 straight scoreless quarters against Thomas Stone's football team, the La Plata Warriors simply wanted to find the end zone Friday night. Once that happened, the Warriors figured, everything else would work out.
And it did. It took just one touchdown to erase three years of La Plata misery at the hands of its Southern Maryland Athletic Conference rivals -- a 9-yard run by Travis McConnell on the opening drive that held up for a 7-6 Warriors victory.
La Plata (4-5, 4-5 SMAC) needed some timely defense to prevent a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter before it could celebrate. La Plata Coach Chris Davidson said he expected a narrow finish. And in a game of traded punts and near misses, that's what he got.
"They're one of the teams you look to," he said of Thomas Stone. "You may beat them, but they're not going to make it easy,"
Indeed, things got complicated in the fourth quarter when Davidson elected not to punt on fourth-and-1 from the Warriors 34. Cougars junior Patrick Swearinger, who moved from running back to quarterback in the second half, engineered an eight-play, 34-yard drive that ended with his six-yard keeper, which cut the lead to 7-6.
Swearinger found Brent Greene in the end zone for the two-point conversion, but the completion was waived off because of a holding penalty that pushed Thomas Stone back to the 17. Swearinger connected with Tyler Shymansky on a rollout, but freshman cornerback Donnell Thornton stopped him inches away from the goal line.
"We thought the way we steamrolled into the end zone, we could get up there quick, go for two and get [the Warriors] while they were kicking themselves," Thomas Stone Coach Steve Lindsay said. "That was the mentality that I had going into that play."
La Plata held the Cougars to 54 rushing yards, which proved enough support for its opening drive. Quarterback B.J. Conley hit James Ikner with a 34-yard strike that brought the Warriors to the Cougars' 9-yard line. McConnell secured the handoff on the next play and trotted in to give La Plata a 7-0 lead.
"I thought [the touchdown] would hold up," said running back Tyler Kisner, who led the Warriors with 76 yards on 15 carries. "When they came out and they started running the ball, I knew we could stop them. That's what we did all night."
Still in playoff contention heading into Friday's game, the loss crippled the Cougars' (5-4, 5-4) prospects. After a 5-0 start, they fell to McDonough, No. 16 Westlake and No. 7 Lackey before the La Plata matchup.
"This can be a hard team to read," Lindsay said.