For most of Thomas Stone's 7-6 victory over host La Plata last night, Stone junior wide receiver-defensive back Tymon Barnes said he was fairly bored. In the end, he wound up making things a little too exciting for the Cougars.
Barnes intercepted a La Plata pass at the Stone 20-yard line on the final play of the game to preserve the victory--then tried to run the ball for a touchdown instead of downing the ball immediately. He eventually was tackled at the Stone 35 to end the game.
"People were yelling at me to down the ball, but I really wanted to score a touchdown," said Barnes, who played at La Plata as a freshman before transferring to Stone. "I was kind of bored since we were not throwing much, but I guess everything worked out okay."
Perhaps it was a fitting end, since for the second straight year, touchdowns were hard to come by in the game between two of the best teams in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference. Last night, neither team completed a pass until La Plata quarterback Tyler McConnell completed one to Titus Green that lost two yards late in the fourth quarter. For the game, the teams went a combined 1-for-13 passing.
"Yes, I believe we give the fans their money's worth," Thomas Stone Coach Rich Callahan said. "They should call us the party-hat Cougars, since our games are always exciting. Do not get me wrong, I am pleased to be 4-0 and pleased with the victory tonight. It is just that I wish these games were not so close."
Last night's game did not appear as though it would be close after Marcus Whalen's 32-yard touchdown run gave the Cougars a 7-0 lead less than four minutes into the game. But a tough La Plata defense and three Stone fumbles prevented the outcome from being decided until the final seconds.
After La Plata defensive lineman Josh Geisbert recovered Stone's third fumble at the Cougar 23 with 5 minutes 38 seconds left in the game, the Warriors went on a five-play drive, culminated by a two-yard touchdown run by Dennis Williamson. But the Warriors missed the extra point.
"Our kids were disappointed and there was some crying [in the post-game huddle], but we have to come back on Monday and regroup," La Plata Coach Joe Williams said. "Our defense played tough, but a few mental mistakes hurt us."
Both offenses looked to rush the football. Stone held Green, La Plata's leading rusher, to 37 yards on nine carries. Green entered last night with 384 yards in the first three games.
But they did not have similar success with senior Raheem Archer, who led the Warriors with 61 yards on 11 carries.
Stone was led by Whalen, who finished with 196 yards on 26 carries. Running back Mike Finamore had 57 yards on 13 carries and also had an interception.
Last year, Stone defeated La Plata, 6-0, on a Whalen touchdown run with less than two minutes remaining. And the Cougars did not seem to mind that this year's game was just as close.
"It was a tough neighborhood game," Stone lineman Brian Sims said. "We know all their guys, and we knew we could not lose to La Plata because then they would be walking around the neighborhood saying they had gotten the better of us. We knew we had to win."
CAPTION: La Plata quarterback Tyler McConnell is rushed and pressured by Thomas Stone's Marvin Swearinger (65) and Brian Sims and fails to complete the pass.