The 2013 fall preps sport season has come to a final end with state champions being crowned in all four divisions of the MPSSAA. All games were played at the Ravens’ M&T Bank Stadium. The larger 3A and 4A schools were covered in a previous post. Saturday afternoon saw the smaller half of the state crown champions with two powerful football programs.
In the 2A State Championship Game the Middletown Knights won their third consecutive state title with a 17-3 victory over the Patuxent High School Panthers. The victory is the 37th consecutive win for what most Maryland football followers acknowledge is the premier program in the state.
Patuxent did give the Knights their toughest game of the season. For most of the second half, all the momentum had swung to the Panthers who found a way to run wide on the Knights. And the Patuxent defense played an outstanding game.
But in the end, the Middletown defense was simply better, being led especially by 6-7, 260 pound Rick Leonard – a senior headed for Florida State next year. And Junior defensive back Nick Welsh made several great plays in the Panthers backfield to thwart any sustained drives.
Welch also used his foot to put the Knights on the board first with a 29-yard field goal at 6:00 in the 1st quarter.
Senior quarterback Tim Pirrone finished off a Middletown-dominated 1st quarter by floating a fine pass to Junior Peter Heon for a seven-yard touchdown strike and a 10-0 Middletown lead. Pirrone would finish 10 of 15 for a total of 102 yards passing.
A scoreless 2nd quarter saw the Panthers defense stiffen and the beginnings of a Patuxent offence.
Unable to penetrate the center of the Middletown defense, the Panthers came out in the second half with some runs to turn the quarter for several long gains. Rafiq Douglas (of Douglass) would log 13 carries and 80 total yards.
Patuxent was able to get to the Middletown five yard line at the of the 3rd quarter, but after a Rick Leonard sack of QB Tyler Crounse, the Panthers settled for a 32-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 10-3.
But a last Middletown drive and touchdown by Brad Rinehart with 57 seconds remaining sealed the 17-3 final victory.
Could the Knights come back in 2014 to win a fourth consecutive title? It has never been done in Maryland, though several others have won three consecutive – including Dunbar with a third championship just last year. It has never been done in West Virginia either – until today, when nearby Martinsburg won their fourth in a row.
Fort Hill struck first in the game at 7:33 of the 1st quarter with a five-yard rushing score by Dekarai Darr.
With 9:23 remaining in the 3rd quarter, a 29-yard pick-six interception by Alex Barnes put the Sentinels ahead 13-0. (Just think how cool that would be to be a high school kid running back an interception for a touchdown in the state championships at M&T Bank Stadium!)
But Alex Barnes was not done scoring. At 11:11 remaining in the 4th quarter he scored from seven yards to put the Sentinels on top 19-0. And yet again less than three minutes later, he took the ball 44 yards for his third touchdown of the day. Barnes would tally 116 yards rushing. Dekarai Darr would add 97 yards on 22 carries, with Ty Johnson gaining 89 on 10 carries … as the balanced ground attack was more than Douglass could handle.
Fort Hill won the Maryland State Championship in ‘75 and ‘97 (2A) and has been second six times, most recently in 2008. As written before, the City of Cumberland / Allegany County passion for football is beyond description relative to most parts of the country. The stadium at Fort Hill holds about 20,000 people, and it is fully used historically.
So, major congratulations to the teams and fantastic fans of Middletown and Fort Hill! Both programs finish with perfect undefeated seasons.
And everyone – help out this new blog on the FanSided national sports network be a success – not just providing great coverage to the Orioles, Ravens, and Terps … but also for Maryland High School sports. Go to your Facebook account and “like” us – The Baltimore Wire – and be followers on Twitter @BaltimoreWireFS.