Football: Quince Orchard Falls In Championship Game For Second Straight Year

by Eric Meany

BALTIMORE — The Quince Orchard and Henry A. Wise High School football teams both relied on run-heavy offensive schemes that complimented their relentlessly stingy defenses to dominate opponents all year long. But with time running out in the fourth quarter of the MPSSAA Class 4A State Championship Game at M&T Bank Stadium on Friday, each team placed its title hopes on the throwing shoulder of its quarterback.

Wise’s Isaiah Black lobbed a 24-yard touchdown pass to Micah Till with 2:14 left in the game and Joseph Shelton intercepted a pass from Quince Orchard’s Matt Choi on the goal line a minute-and-a-half later to give the Pumas a 12-7 victory and the first football championship in the seven-year history of the Prince George’s County school.

“They made a play and we didn’t,” said coach Dave Mencarini, whose Cougars (12-2) lost in the state final for the second consecutive season. “It’s not our defense’s fault. They’ve been stopping passing teams all year long.”

Wise (14-0) is hardly a passing team, but with the ball on their own 20-yard-line and trailing by a point with 5:44 remaining in the game, coach DeLawn Parrish said he had no choice but to put the ball in the air. After the game-winning drive began with two incompletions, a scrambling Black connected with Till for a 26-yard completion that moved the chains and gave the Pumas the momentum they needed. Six plays later, the pair hooked up again for the deciding touchdown.

“Some teams pass to pass,” Parrish said. “We pass when we’re forced to… [Till] kept saying ‘give me a shot.’ He kept saying ‘Look, I’m six-five, throw it up.’ ”

Said Black: “I threw it up to him, and I was like ‘Man, I know he’s coming down with this. They can’t check him.’ Touchdown. And I was like ‘That’s it.’ I knew it was over after that.”

On the subsequent Quince Orchard drive an unsportmanlike conduct penalty after Choi completed a pass to Elliott Davis at the Wise 15-yard line pushed the Cougars back to the 30 with 1:06 left to play. Three plays later Shelton made the interception that effectively ended Quince Orchard’s season.

“It cost us the game,” Mencarini said of the penalty. “Stupid. Selfish. My kids deserved better than that.”

Wise scored on its first possession of the game, with a 3-yard touchdown run by Chase Powell capping a five-play 43-yard drive to give the Pumas a 6-0 lead four minutes into the first quarter. With the Cougars unable to mount a sustained offensive attack, Wise seemed poised to increase their lead when they had a first-and-goal on the Quince Orchard 8-yard line late in the second quarter. But Marcus Newby recovered Powell’s fumble in the end zone and the Cougars mounted a ten-play 80-yard drive to take a 7-6 lead into halftime.

Quince Orchard’s first drive of the second half started promisingly as senior Tyrell Williams ran for 55 yards on the first play to move the ball from the Cougars’ 15-yard line to the Pumas’ 30. Williams led all rushers with 187 yards on 19 carries in his final game for the Cougars. Six plays later Quince Orchard went for it on 4th-and-3 from the Wise 10, but Choi was only able to gain two yards on a run and the Pumas took over on downs.

In the fourth quarter the Cougars again drove deep into Wise territory, facing 4th-and-10 on the Pumas’ 12-yard line with 5:48 left to play. This time Quince Orchard attempted a field goal, but Jake Barkdoll’s kick went wide to the right side. Wise took posession and went on to score the touchdown that won them the game and the championship.


Quince Orchard 0 7 0 0 7
6 0 0 6 12



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