Neither Lackey nor McDonough expected a repeat of the Chargers' 51-13 whitewashing of the Rams on Oct. 15, but Lackey's 10-3 victory Saturday showcased the more underrated aspects of both teams -- their defenses.
Both teams entered averaging more than 30 points per game but were at their opponent's mercy when prime scoring chances arose. In the second half, the teams failed to convert nine straight third-down opportunities (five for Lackey, four for McDonough) until the Chargers' touchdown drive late in the game.
McDonough held Lackey to just a field goal on its first four visits to the Rams' red zone. McDonough, meantime, mustered only 32 yards of offense in the second half.
"They were holding us. We were holding them," Lackey junior fullback-linebacker Bryan Gibbons said. "We were doing all we could, but we weren't scoring. Somehow, we found a way to get it done."
It was Gibbons who begged Lackey Coach Scott Chadwick to run a play Gibbons called -- a fly pattern to the right corner of the end zone for the game's lone touchdown. After junior quarterback Aaron Smith sneaked ahead for three yards on fourth and inches from the McDonough 22, he found Gibbons for the go-ahead score with 50 seconds to play.
* Westlake 35, Severna Park 20: No Southern Maryland team -- and few in the Washington area, for that matter -- can match Westlake's depth, which was the deciding factor in its victory over Severna Park.
For the second straight week, the Wolverines' offense was short-handed. Their top three rushers -- Aaris Reed, Pha'Terrell Washington and Darius Harris -- were injured, as was lineman Cordaro Davis. For the second straight week, the Wolverines showed their talent runs three or four deep at key positions.
Look no further than Westlake's two touchdowns in the final two minutes, which broke a 20-20 deadlock. Junior Kahill Permenter had not carried the ball all season before Saturday's game but scored on an 11-yard run with 1 minute 56 seconds to play. After Westlake intercepted Severna Park on its next snap, sophomore Sean Allen, who was the leading rusher on the Wolverines' junior varsity team, scored from 14 yards out to seal the victory.
"When it was 20-20, our kids found a way to win, so that's a positive," Westlake Coach Dominic Zaccarelli said. "There were a lot of young kids on the field. We survived. That's the best way to put it."
Westlake's defense took it upon itself to compensate for its inexperience on offense. Senior Mike Lassiter's fumble recovery in the end zone late in the first quarter opened the scoring. Less than two minutes into the second quarter, senior defensive end Chris Lyle sacked Severna Park quarterback Andrew Ferris and forced a fumble, which Permenter recovered. Two plays later, senior Andrew Tucker scored on a two-yard run to make it 14-0.
* Broadneck 37, Patuxent 8: In the week leading up to Saturday's game, Panthers Coach Steve Crounse stressed that the first quarter should decide the outcome. If Patuxent's playoff rookies could stay close to last year's 4A runner-up, then the Panthers would have a chance, especially with their big-play potential.
That never happened. Broadneck led 24-0 about 15 minutes into the game and then muzzled almost every Patuxent offensive threat with its defensive pressure up front. Broadneck had shut out five regular season opponents and allowed only two to score more than seven points.
"Their defense didn't allow us to get started all game," Crounse said. "It was fairly evident early . . . and you can't play catch-up against a team like that."
Crounse said it was tough to see seniors such as quarterback Delonte Janey (1,950 passing yards, 23 touchdowns) leave the field for the last time. But the Panthers reached the playoffs for just the second time in school history (they lost to Urbana in the 2001 3A final) and did so by winning their final four games after starting the season 2-4.