Though Friday’s Maryland 3A state football semifinal had slipped through their hands long before, few of Huntingtown’s players appeared ready to accept what had just transpired on their home field, not even as Coach Brendan Galligan delivered consoling words of finality following the Hurricanes’ 49-7 season-ending loss to Franklin.
Huntingtown senior running back Arnez Bowens kept his helmet on while tears streamed down into his chin strap. Others stared down at the grass, which was both brown from the wintry weather hovering over the area and slightly shredded from the damage incurred during one of the No. 13 Hurricanes’ most lopsided losses in their decorated 10-year history.
“We were prepared and ready, especially after how good we played last week, but once we got out here we didn’t play like we were prepared,” Bowens said. “They came out and executed from the start.”
Franklin (11-2) scored on seven of its first eight possessions, finding success through the air behind its array of athletic receivers. Indians junior quarterback Jacquez Adams threw for six touchdowns and 300 yards in just more than a half of action. On the other side of the ball, his twin brother, Jordan, intercepted a pass and helped lead a defensive effort that limited Bowens to just 92 yards and the Hurricanes (11-2) to two first downs in the opening quarter.
“Everywhere I went, they went,” Bowens said.
When Bowens did find a bit of daylight on a 26-yard catch from Robbie Payne, it led to his touchdown on a diving three-yard run that cut the deficit to 28-7 in the second quarter.
But Jacquez Adams crushed Huntingtown’s hopes for a rally by connecting with three different receivers for touchdown throws of 50, 27 and 55 yards — the last of which came on the first play of the second half and made for the final margin.
“We knew it could come down to big plays with their skill kids, and once they got going early it just snowballed from there,” Hurricanes Coach Brendan Galligan said. “We couldn’t do anything right, it seemed, and we tried everything. Nothing seemed to be working for us.”
The disappointing result came just a week after Huntingtown’s best offensive effort of the year and just months after many had chalked up this season as a rebuilding one after 26 seniors from last year’s state runner-up squad graduated. Despite boasting just one returning starter on offense, the Hurricanes fought back into state-title contention, leaving them with an aura of achievement to hang onto as they broke their huddle Friday for one last time this year.
“The fact that we made it back here is a testament to those guys and their hard work; it just didn’t work out for us tonight,” Galligan said. “We did overachieve in a sense, and this team developed the most from day one more than any team I’ve seen. But when you make it this far and lose like this, it’s going to hurt pretty bad.”