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By Harry Lichtman
GAITHERSBURG — On Oct. 26, the Northwest Jaguars and Quince Orchard Cougars met in a match-up between two of the best varsity football teams in the county, in which the Cougars won.
Three weeks later, on Friday night, the two schools met again in Gaithersburg for the 4A Regional Finals, with the Cougars winning once again by the lopsided score of 35-0.
“It feels good to beat Northwest for a second time,” said Quince Orchard sophomore quarterback Brian Plummer. “I’m ready for next week to prepare in practice.”
One week ago, the number one-seeded Cougars beat the four-seeded Richard Montgomery Rockets 42-10, while the number three-seeded Jaguars defeated the two-seeded Churchill Bulldogs 56-20.
For a majority of the first half, both defenses stepped up and did their jobs. Toward the end of the first quarter, Quince Orchard attempted a field goal that came up short.
The game remained scoreless until the last four minutes of the first half, when Cougars sophomore running back Jeremiah White took the handoff and raced 30 yards to the end zone for the touchdown to put the home team up 7-0.
However, the Cougars didn’t stop there. On their next drive, junior tailback Marquez Cooper made three impressive runs on consecutive plays: the first being a 35-yard stride down the sideline, followed by Cooper leaping over the offensive linemen for five yards, and then a 10-yard scamper into the end zone to extend the lead to 14-0.
“It starts with the line,” said Plummer. “The line had a great game. They kept on pushing. We came out with the ‘W’ because of the line.”
Still, Quince Orchard wasn’t done yet, because with under a minute remaining, deep inside their own territory, senior linebacker Johnny Hodges blocked Northwest’s punt , which Rashaud Thomas recovered in the end zone for six. Even with the extra point being missed, the score remained 20-0 at halftime. What began as a huge defensive battle became more like a Cougars blowout within the last four minutes of the first half.
The rout continued in the second half when Plummer connected with Hodges in the corner of the end zone for the six-yard score. The successful two-point conversion increased the lead to 28-0.
Plummer tossed another scoring pass when his screen to senior running back Gerald Wade III resulted in another touchdown for the Cougars to extend the lead to 35-0.
“They both played great,” Quince Orchard head coach John Kelley said of Plummer and Cooper. “They both made plays. We’re lucky we have both those guys.”
The Cougars defense also did their job as they sacked Northwest sophomore quarterback Jordan Morse multiple times. They even recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff early on in the contest.
“Anytime you can win a regional championship, it’s exciting,” said Kelley. “Our kids worked very hard, and we’re proud of how they played tonight and what they accomplished.”
Despite the loss, Northwest head coach Mike Neubeisel said he feels grateful for leading his team to the regional finals.
“You hope to do a little better, but we were successful in that we had a winning season,” said Neubeisel. “We had a lot of wins.”
With Paint Branch and Damascus eliminated, Quince Orchard is the last Montgomery County team remaining in the MPSSAA Football Playoffs, as the Cougars will host the Wise Pumas in the State Semifinals next Friday, Nov. 23.