The Cougars overpowered the Pumas with their size and physicality in a 31-13 win at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Friday night to claim their second state title in the past three full seasons and fourth in program history.
“They can all do the Internet beef, but we don’t do none of that talking,” offensive lineman Christian Piedrahita said. “We just work in silence, and when the time comes, we’re going to punch them in the mouth and show them who the real big dog is.”
Quince Orchard (14-0) and/or Wise (12-1) has appeared in the past six Maryland 4A championship games, and the teams often stand in each other’s postseason paths. Wise beat the Montgomery County foe in the 2012, 2016 and 2017 state championship games by an average of nearly 20 points. Quince Orchard, however, defeated the Pumas for the first time in the 2018 semifinals en route to claiming the state title. Friday was the first meeting since.
After playing three games in a condensed spring campaign, Quince Orchard was inconsistent to start this season, beating Paint Branch by a touchdown in its second game and allowing Walter Johnson to score 28 points the next week.
But the Cougars’ struggles were short-lived. They won 11 games by 31 or more points, including a regular season drubbing of rival Northwest.
“Going out there with that Cougars on your chest, everybody wants to get at you,” defensive back Steven Sannieniola said. “You got a target on your back. We invite it because we practice and we prepare and we train hard.”
Quince Orchard’s coaches knew their defining moment would arrive late in the postseason. The Cougars were undefeated in 2019 when Northwest beat them in the semifinals. Last week, Quince Orchard topped the Jaguars, 14-13.
When they broke huddles this season, Quince Orchard players yelled “state champs.” With that objective a win away, Quince Orchard started fast. The Cougars took advantage of Wise’s punt return fumble midway through the second quarter to take a 21-6 lead.
Wise star quarterback Jayden Sauray threw a touchdown pass on the ensuing drive, but Cougars kicker Sam Smith ended the half with a 31-yard field goal to extend the Cougars’ lead to 24-13.
Quince Orchard scored once in the second half — Howard’s touchdown run — and that was all it needed. With 3:36 remaining, defensive back Jalen Huskey intercepted Sauray to begin the celebration.
“At the end of the day, having a target on our backs helps us play better," quarterback Savan Briggs said. “But a lot of these games, even though we’re No. 1, people used to doubt us, especially this game against Wise. That kind of fueled us to play better than people expected and go out there and shut the team down.”