Long Reach 42, Glenelg 33
Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
Long Reach Coach Pete Hughes was worried. His football team was trailing Glenelg by three touchdowns 13 minutes into Friday night's Howard County game, and it appeared the Lightning was going to suffer its fifth consecutive loss to the three-time defending county champions.
"I've seen Glenelg do this to us before, so I was really concerned," Hughes said. "The thought of what's happened to us against Glenelg did cross my mind, but I hoped we would just keep fighting and see what would happen."
What transpired during the remaining three quarters by Hughes's estimation was the best performance in school history, as the undefeated Lightning stormed back for a 42-33 road victory.
"I never imagined the game would play out like that," Hughes said. "We went from having trouble moving the ball to playing the best we've ever played in the history of our school -- just a tremendous team effort."
After Glenelg senior quarterback Justin Field scored on a one-yard run to extend his team's lead to 20-0 with 10 minutes 46 seconds remaining in the second quarter, Long Reach responded by scoring five touchdowns in the next 22 minutes 53 seconds to deal the Gladiators (6-1, 6-1 league) their first loss of the season.
The 42 points scored by Long Reach, which is 7-0 overall and in league play for the first time in the school's nine-year history, was the most that Glenelg had given up since a 42-6 loss to Mount Hebron on Oct. 10, 1998 -- a span of 67 games.
However, Glenelg's offense, which was led by senior running back Blake Mullinix (12 carries, 165 yards, 2 touchdowns) scored seven more points on the Lightning (26) than it had allowed in the past 10 games dating from last season.
Long Reach sophomore running back Keith Richardson rushed for a team-high 109 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries and added an 80-yard kickoff return to lead the Lightning.
"Once my blockers opened up the holes, that's all I needed," Richardson said. "We showed what we can do when we work as a team."
The Lightning will next face River Hill (7-0, 6-0) next Saturday.
"That game is going to be the biggest game any of us has ever played," Long Reach junior quarterback Ray Gilbert said. "I think playing the way we did to comeback and beat Glenelg shows we have what it takes to win the county title."
But Long Reach, which uses the run-oriented, single-wing offense, also proved it is a threat to throw the football. Gilbert threw nine times, completing four, all to senior Kenny King, who finished with 158 yards, including a 55-yard touchdown reception.