Northwest has developed a reputation as a high-octane, big-play football team. And for good reason. The 13th-ranked Jaguars have Division I-caliber talent sprinkled throughout their skill positions, and they possess speed in excess.
But Northwest players take offense to the notion that they are all flash and not a physical team. And Saturday night, in Northwest's 26-16 victory over Urbana in a Maryland 3A West Region semifinal, the Jaguars displayed both speed and power.
The speed was evident in two big-play touchdowns. The first came midway through the second quarter, when Urbana punted from deep in its own territory. Northwest senior Alphonzo Griffin fielded the punt at the Urbana 41-yard line, ran right and then back left to hand the ball off to Salim Koroma, who was running right. With only Urbana players in front of him, Koroma reversed his field and then weaved his way to the end zone for a 12-0 lead.
After Urbana cut the lead to 12-8, Northwest scored just before halftime when senior quarterback Ike Whitaker flipped a pass to Nelson on a middle screen, and Nelson raced 69 yards for a touchdown.
"That middle screen, that's been a successful play for us, particularly with Tony running it," Northwest Coach Randy Trivers said. "He's dangerous when he gets in the open field."
Late in the game, after Urbana scored to pull within 20-16, Northwest showed its physical side. The Jaguars went 51 yards in six running plays to score a back-breaking touchdown. Along the way they converted on fourth-and-inches with a quarterback sneak.
"That was all our line," Whitaker said. "People say our o-line is sorry and all that stuff. I think they proved themselves."
Bulldogs Debut New Formation
For several weeks before Saturday's Maryland 4A West Region semifinal against Quince Orchard, Churchill had practiced a new formation -- five wide receivers and quarterback Nick Scrivens in shotgun.
But the Bulldogs had not unveiled the look in a game until Saturday, when they needed it after falling behind Quince Orchard, 17-3, at halftime. They started the second half using the formation and drove for a score. Quince Orchard fumbled on the ensuing kickoff, and Churchill scored again to tie the game.
"We knew we had a formation and a system ready to go in the second half, and we knew we'd be successful with that," Churchill Coach Jamie Collins said. "It worked out so beautifully because we got one drive, then we got the ball right back. They never were able to get off the field to discuss how to stop it."
Damascus 'D' Rises to Occasion
Fourth-ranked Damascus trailed Richard Montgomery by a touchdown at halftime of Saturday's Maryland 4A West Region semifinal, but the Hornets' defense shut out the Rockets in the second half to key a 28-14 victory.
Damascus limited Richard Montgomery running back Steve Weedon to 102 yards -- his lowest total since the Rockets' season opener -- and 5.1 yards per carry, his lowest average this year. And the Rockets' two scores came as a result of big plays on special teams. Their first touchdown came after they returned a kickoff to the Damascus 35-yard line. Their second came after a botched punt snap, which gave Richard Montgomery the ball at the Damascus 5-yard line.