GAITHERSBURG — In a battle of two rivals, the Quince Orchard Cougars nabbed the 4A West regional championship title after dispatching the Northwest Jaguars 31-20.
The game heated up an otherwise frigid Friday night, and showed how each team prepared for this game.
“Ultimately they capitalized on some mistakes we made. We made too many mistakes, got penalties that were huge penalties and they capitalized and we didn’t. We made a few too many mistakes in the end,” said Jaguars head coach Mike Neubeiser.
The Cougars were coming off of a victory high after annihilating the Einstein Titans 62-0 last week, while the Jaguars arrived to this game through sheer willpower.
The Jaguars could have been in trouble if it weren’t for a last-second field goal that saved their game against the Richard Montgomery Rockets last week from going into overtime, putting the Jaguars through with a narrow 10-7 victory.
For most of the game, it looked like the Jaguars fixed their mistakes, and even scored first with a touchdown by senior running back Rob McNamee. A successful kick made it seven points and gave the Jaguars the lead going into the second quarter.
The Jaguars struck first again in the second quarter, this time when senior quarterback Chris Craddock connected with senior wide receiver Alphonso Foray for a touchdown.
The Cougars got their start when senior quarterback Doc Bonner faked out the Jaguar defense and dashed 49 yards for a touchdown.
“They came out battling. We made a lot of mistakes in the beginning of the game, and that’s what put us back,” said Bonner.
Bonner later connected with sophomore running back Marquez Cooper for a short eight-yard dash into the end zone.
Senior kicker Evan Judge made both extra point attempts after both touchdowns, and helped bring the Cougars into halftime with the lead.
Judge started off scoring in the third quarter with a 41-yard field goal, giving the Cougars some breathing room, albeit not much, with a 17-13 score.
Junior Jaguars quarterback Jack Anders, who replaced Craddock after he was injured in the second quarter, handed the ball off to senior running back Juwon Farri for an easy eight-yard trot into the end zone.
After wide receiver Luke Patterson, who kicked all the extra point attempts tonight, made the shot that put Northwest on the board at 20-17, the visiting Jaguars never scored again.
The Jaguars went into the fourth quarter with the lead, but the Cougars aimed to change that. Bonner carried the ball into the end zone for the first touchdown of the last quarter. On a drive rife with enough penalties to scoot them close enough to the end zone, Bonner connected with Cooper again for the last touchdown of the game.
Judge made every kick, and the game ended with the Cougars victorious 31-20.
“We played from behind before, our kids rose to the challenge, our kids are very, very, very competitive,” said Cougars head coach John Kelley.