MPSSAA Football 2A State Championship
Patuxent came from behind to win the MPSSAA 2A football state championship 21-20 over Walkersville. The winning score came on a two yard run by Chris Long with 1:23 left in the game. It was their first lead of the night.
After a first half in which they were shut out and turned the ball over twice, head coach Steve Crounse replaced QB Jaelen Gross for his son, Reese. The move made a big difference, as the offense gained 190 yards in the second half compared to 117 from the first half.
The switch paid dividends immediately, as Patuxent scored their first points of the game on a 27 yard completion to Greg Leonard. The score tied the game at 7.
"It's been one starter and one relief pitcher all year," Steve Crounse said about his two quarterbacks. "I don't like two quarterback systems, but it worked for us this year. At halftime we just needed a spark, and that's what it was."
After their first score, the Panthers fell behind Walkersville 20-7 after running back Chad Gleason scored two touchdowns. Patuxent got back into the game when Reese Crounse hit tight end Juan Watkins for a score with 10:34 left in the game. It was a tough catch as Watkins had a couple Walkersville defenders on him as he made the grab.
After Patuxent's defense held Walkersville, Patuxent went on a 14 play 79 yard drive which was finished off by Long's gritty two yard run to win to take the lead.
"That last touchdown, that was all Chris' will, to get in the end zone for us," Steve Crounse said.
Walkersville's physical running attack was effective for most of the game. Gleason led the way with a monstrous effort, finishing with 225 yards on 27 carries, while also getting into the end zone three times. The Lions ran the ball 50 times, gaining a total of 308 yards. They only attempted three passes.
For Patuxent's older players, this win is quite meaningful because the Panthers lost in the state final two years ago to Middletown, 17-3. For the seniors who were a part of that squad, they remembered how they felt at the end of their first state final, and how much better they're feeling tonight.
"I remember being here the first time, losing was the worst thing. Middletown ran by screaming and cheering as we were doing this," offensive and defensive lineman Tim Nickisch said. "It was the worst feeling ever, and I did not want that to happen again."
Wide receiver Jared Massengill agreed.
"Our goal was always to get back, right after we lost that state final," Massengill said. "Our goal always to get back and win it. Finally, we accomplished it."
|December 6th, 2015||By: Wick Eisenberg|