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North Point loses by touchdown in first state championship

Annapolis, MD- The last week in November marked the end of the 2018 Maryland High School football season and North Point, the only SMAC team in a state championship game this year, played for their first ever state title against Quince Orchard from Gaithersburg.

The Eagles, though undefeated, were the underdogs coming into Friday night’s game after beating Mervo 23-13 in the State Semi-final. Their opponent, Quince Orchard, defeated Wise, which won the past three 4A State Championships and defeated the Cougars in the previous two state finals. Though typically dominant in the regular season, with a 100-21 record, North Point generally has lost early in the playoffs—holding a 6-9 post-season record. Having overcome that hurdle last year by making it to the 4A semi-final, where they lost to Quince Orchard, the Eagles looked to take that final step and become state champions. 

North Point received the opening kickoff and began their first drive from their 18-yard-line. The Eagles’ offense came out with an empty backfield, spreading Quince Orchard’s defense. Quarterback Asa Williams (Jr.) hit state receiving yard leader Malik Lawrence (Sr.) with his first pass but then threw two incompletions. On second and long Williams dropped back and hit Deandre Beverly (Sr.) in stride for a 61-yard gain. The North Point sideline exploded, and the offense rushed up to the ball to call their next play. After being stuffed on the next two downs and receiving an offensive pass interference penalty, Williams found Lawrence on 3rd and 11, capping off the 9-play, 82-yard opening drive. North Point took the lead 6-0 after a blocked extra point attempt.  

Quince Orchard answered on their next drive, but they took their time in doing so. The Cougars strong running game, led by Marquez Cooper (So.) and their colossal offensive-line, imposed its will on North Point’s defense. Quince Orchard’s 13 play drive consisted of 12 rushes and only one pass, capped off by sophomore quarterback Brian Plummer’s 5-yard rushing touchdown that knotted the score at six apiece.

North Point and their young quarterback, Williams, were unfazed and marched down the field with Williams finding Lawrence and Deandre Beverly (Sr.) for significant gains. The 67-yard drive was finished by Lawrence who caught his second touchdown pass from Williams. After Evan Patterson’s PAT traveled through the uprights, the Eagles took a 13-6 point lead.

The touchdown ended up being North Point’s last lead in the game as Quince Orchard scored 27 unanswered points—twice in the second quarter and two more at the beginning of the third. The previous score in the 27-point stretch came when Williams bobbled the snap at the Quince Orchard 19-yard-line that was then scooped and returned for a Cougars touchdown by Kevon Carter-Hackey (Sr.)—the only turnover of the game for either team.

The turnover in the red zone seemed to be the nail in the coffin of the Eagles’ season, putting them down by 20 to the favored, more experienced, Quince Orchard team. However, North Point showed no signs of giving up.  With the ball in Cougar territory, Williams found Lawrence for his third touchdown on 4th and 8. After a bobbled hold on the PAT, North Point cut Quince Orchard’s lead to 33-19.

North Point stopped the Cougar’s on defense for just the second time of the night, forcing them to punt and taking over at their own 32. Williams led the Eagles down the field, finishing the drive with a 36-yard pass to Caelen Carson (Jr.). North Point was now one score away from overcoming their 27-point third-quarter deficit, down 33-26 with 5:47 left in the game.

Unfortunately for the Eagles, Quince Orchard’s run game proved to be too much. With the ball on their own 35, the Cougars strung together an eight-play drive consisting solely of runs that ended with Cooper scoring his third touchdown. With only 1:30 left, North Point was able to score on a Williams 3-yard run, making the score 40-33, but the Eagles’ had only 14 seconds remaining. North Point lined up for an onside attempt but was unsuccessful, finalizing a North Point loss in their first state championship game.

After the game, North Point Head Coach Tom Petre said he thought his seniors “cemented their legacy” despite the loss. “They moved the program forward. We talked about leaving a legacy, and they left a good footprint. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Williams finished the game 19 of 29 for 347-yards passing, and he accounted for all five North Point scores—four through the air and one on the ground. The Eagles had two receivers over 100-yards—Beverly with 128 and Lawrence with 113. Lawrence was on the receiving end of three North Point touchdowns and Carson one.

North Point finished undefeated in the regular season for the second year in a row and is both the SMAC-Potomac and 4A East champion. The Eagles will graduate 20 seniors but return several starters whom they hope can lead the team back next year.

Contact Jerold at staffwriter@thebaynet.com.

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