Quince Orchard 14,
As soon as 19th-ranked Whitman scored to tie the game in the first minute of the fourth quarter, Quince Orchard's players and coaches began talking to each other about how good teams respond immediately. In a season that continues to get better, it did not take the Cougars long.
Following a 27-yard kickoff return by Jermayne Nolan to set up excellent field position, Quince Orchard ran the ball on 10 consecutive plays. Running back Cameron George scored his second touchdown of the game on a five-yard run with 5 minutes 37 seconds left, lifting the visiting Cougars to a 14-7 victory over Whitman in a meeting of previously undefeated Montgomery 4A West Division teams last night in Bethesda before a capacity homecoming crowd of 1,800 that was treated to fireworks after the home team scored and a postgame concert by a student band.
"As soon as they scored, immediately we were thinking that we had to come back," George said. "No ifs, ands or buts. We had to score."
And the Cougars (5-0, 5-0 league) relied on their running game to do so, ending Whitman's regular season winning streak at 15 games. George carried five times on game-winning drive and finished with 100 yards on 21 carries, his third 100-yard game this season. Quarterback Brian Barrett gained three yards on a quarterback sneak to convert one third-down play. Running back Bani Gbadyu gained seven on a third-and-two. Then, on third and three from the 20, George ran behind right tackle Liam D'Aoust for 15 yards down to the Whitman 5-yard line.
On the following play, George bounced to the left for the decisive touchdown run, putting the Cougars back in front, 14-7, and perhaps one step closer to their first playoff berth since 1993.
"That last drive is a sign to me that our program is really turning," said Quince Orchard first-year coach Dave Mencarini, whose team plays defending Maryland 4A champion Damascus on Friday.
"That is the thing we've been trying to get this program to do. In big games, you know the teams are going to make plays. We say you've got to take a punch and give a punch."
After George's go-ahead score, Nolan delivered the knockout punch, making his second interception of the game on a pass over the middle near midfield with 3:25 left. With George gaining 26 yards to convert a third-down play, Quince Orchard did not give up the ball until it was stopped on downs at the Whitman 2-yard line with 41 seconds left.
Nolan's interception, his fifth of the season, was the final highlight for a strong defensive effort. The Cougars held Whitman standout Pat Lazear to a season-low 40 yards on 16 carries and four times kept the Vikings (4-1, 3-1) from scoring after they crossed midfield, including one series that started on the Quince Orchard 8 after a fumble. Lazear scored on a one-yard run to tie it at 7. The Cougars have not allowed more than one touchdown in a game this season.