Thomas Stone 54,
La Plata 0
Nearly a year's worth of pent-up frustration for the Thomas Stone football team found an outlet in an unlikely form -- the onside kick. More precisely, two onside kicks by senior Justin Kelly.
Kelly perfectly executed the onside kicks in the first quarter, keeping the ball out of La Plata's hands for the first 10 minutes 56 seconds and allowing the host Cougars to pull away for a stunning 54-0 win in Waldorf.
Thomas Stone (2-2) had lost seven of its past eight games and two in a row. In their first three games this year, the Cougars had scored only 32 points.
By the end of the first half Friday, Thomas Stone had scored 33, and after the Cougars scored on the first drive of the second half to make it 39-0, the final 21:14 was played with a running clock.
"We lost two games in a row, games we thought we should have won," said senior Patrick Swearinger, who returned a punt 64 yards for a touchdown late in the first half. "Today we were going to go all out."
A year ago, La Plata beat Thomas Stone, 7-6, and Friday's game was pivotal. La Plata (2-2, 2-2 SMAC) had won two of its first three games, including a 10-9 win over Calvert on Sept. 24 that was clinched in the fourth quarter on a blocked extra-point attempt.
After a game-opening drive of 5:46 resulted in a touchdown run by Tanner Mills, Kelly converted an onside kick by tapping the ball short into a gap in the La Plata line, a play the team had practiced since training camp and had planned to do on its first kick. Five plays later, senior quarterback David Brunson broke through a hole on an option run and scored on a 30-yard touchdown for a 14-0 lead.
On the next kick, Coach Steve Lindsey told Kelly that he could try an onside kick again if he saw the opening, and his tap bounded 12 yards before landing in the hands of teammate Nekos Brown.
"We call it Cougar kick. We practice it every day," said Kelly, who also recovered a fumble and made a sack as a defensive end. "Both times I just had a huge hole in front of me, and I tried to put it there."
Five plays after the second kick, the Warriors got possession of the ball on a fumble with 1:04 left, but that drive was cut short two plays and five seconds later when La Plata fumbled at its own 22-yard line.
On the first play of the second quarter, junior Wiley Brown made the first of his three touchdown runs, giving his squad a 21-0 lead.
La Plata answered with its own drive of almost seven minutes, but the drive sputtered at the Cougars' 40.
Thomas Stone secured the win with more special-teams magic in the final two minutes of the half, first on Swearinger's punt return and then, on the final play of the half, when the Cougars tried a fake field goal and Brunson completed a four-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Nekos Brown for a 33-0 halftime lead.
"There was a lot of frustration and anger about the last few weeks, and that came out in the first half," Lindsey said.
Because the Warriors had the ball so little, they finished with just 30 yards of total offense.