There were still about 14 minutes left in the Maryland 4A semifinal game, and Bonner didn’t like that his supporters already were focusing on next week’s nemesis: No. 1 Wise.
So he waved his arms in disapproval, and rounds of “We want Wise” chants immediately stopped. The students were silent.
That exemplified Bonner’s control during No. 8 Quince Orchard’s 40-21 victory against No. 6 North Point in Waldorf. The senior, a three-year starter, played a part in five touchdowns and finished with 325 yards of offense to lead the Cougars to a repeat state championship game appearance.
“Of course, we want to face Wise,” Bonner said. “And we knew we were going to face them as we got later into tonight, but in our heads, we were trying to finish this game first.”
The score that sparked the chant was perhaps the Dartmouth commit’s most dynamic.
Bonner rushed for two touchdowns and threw for another pair, but this play involved him moving without the ball. On a trick play, wide receiver Brendan McGonagle found Bonner running down the right sideline for an 18-yard touchdown pass.
Coach John Kelley said his team had been practicing the look for months but hadn’t used it because the Cougars were averaging nearly 48 points a game with their contributors playing their usual roles.
But Friday night’s trickery added a spark to a game Quince Orchard (12-1) had hoped to reach throughout the season.
Last year, the Cougars faced Wise at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in the 4A final, losing, 42-7, to one of the area’s deepest and most successful teams. So after ending the first state semifinal appearance for North Point (12-1) in disappointment, Kelley reminded his players that they, too, were perennial contenders.
Then Bonner interrupted.
“I’m thankful you guys got me back here,” he yelled from the middle of the huddle, referring to the concussion he suffered in last year’s state final that required an emergency helicopter ride from the field in Annapolis to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. “Now it’s redemption, redemption, redemption.”
“He’s a special player,” Kelley said. “He’s an elite player, and when you’re an elite player, you can make the plays like he made tonight.”
Bonner completed 64.7 percent of his passes for 213 yards and added 112 on the ground. One of his final carries, a one-yard touchdown rush with about seven minutes left in the game, angered the Eagles.
After the extra point ended in some verbal sparring, Kelley pulled his team in to regain its focus. When Bonner emerged from the sideline huddle, he looked to the student section and waved his arms up and down to the thrill of the crowd.
“I knew this game was going to decide it all whether I would actually be able to finish my career next week,” Bonner said. “I knew I had to go all out and hype up.”
An earlier version of this story misquoted Quince Orchard quarterback Doc Bonner when he was speaking to teammates. He said “redemption” three times, not “revenge.”