The MoCo varsity football team defeats North Point, 40-33
By Eva Paspalis @EvaPaspalis
ANNAPOLIS — Legacy. Community. Four losses in the state championship game. A special young man who played linebacker and wore the number six on his uniform. A team from Gaithersburg, the last remaining playoff team from Montgomery County, back on the big stage at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, motivated by all of the above and determined not to fail.
The Quince Orchard Cougars captured their coveted state championship Friday in a 40-33 victory over the North Point Eagles from Charles County. Emotions ran high on both sides of the ball and though the Eagles threatened a comeback late in the fourth quarter, the Cougars prevailed and, in the end, took home the trophy that has eluded them since 2007.
After the game, multiple players emotionally repeated one simple phrase: “do it for six.” Do it for Tyler Terry, the student athlete who passed away suddenly last February. Running back Marquez Cooper, who shredded the North Point defense with 39 carries for 243 yards and three touchdowns, said that Terry was on his mind when he was on the field.
“What kept me going is what I’m doing it for. I’ve had a lot of losses in my life. I wanted to play for them on the field today,” said Cooper. “I lost my uncle Dominique Chase, lost Josh [Snyder] that I knew from Northwest who passed away in a car crash; I knew him very well, I used to stay over at his house. And Tyler. I just have to do it for all of them, the angels watching over me. I try to keep getting yards and big gains for them, for my team and for my community.”
Cooper’s motivation propelled him to over 2000 yards rushing this season. Now, he and his teammates enter the history books as 4A state champions.
North Point made sure the victory didn’t come easily, however, as the Eagles sought redemption for last year’s semifinals loss at home to the Cougars. Wide receiver Malik Lawrence’s 113 yards and three touchdowns kept North Point in the game and helped resurrect the Eagles in the third quarter after surrendering 27 unanswered points to Quince Orchard.
Six of those unanswered points came off of a North Point turnover. Quarterback Asa Williams completed 19 passes for 347 yards and four touchdowns, but his one mistake came in the third quarter when he fumbled the ball and Quince Orchard defensive lineman Kevon Carter-Hackey recovered. In the blink of an eye, Carter-Hackey was speeding down the field untouched and soared into the end zone with arms outstretched.
“I saw it and I just picked it up. I thought I was going to get knocked down,” said Carter-Hackey of his game-changing play. “I knew that the team needed it. These are my brothers.”
The Cougars tried to keep the North Point offense off the field by extending drives and taking time off the clock courtesy of Cooper and his fellow running backs Ryan Jones and Jeremiah White.
Even still, the Eagles managed to capitalize on Quince Orchard penalties on back-to-back possessions and cut down the Cougars’ lead to just seven points. Lawrence capped off his night with a 33-yard touchdown to complete the hat trick. Later, Williams called his own number and darted into the paint from three yards out. Both times, the entire scoring drive took approximately 60 seconds.
“Malik has proven to be a special player and he’s got the innate ability to make complete plays and make consistent plays,” said North Point head coach Tom Petre. “I think tonight he proved his stock a little more. Every game he’s been in, no matter the stage, he’s taken over and proven his worth as a football player.”
Petre called for an onside kick with just 14 seconds left on the clock and Quince Orchard linebacker Johnny Hodges recovered the ball. A roar went up from the Cougars’ side of the field as fans clad in red and black began to celebrate. The Cougars were champions, and the 4A trophy was coming home to Gaithersburg.
“This is one of the most competitive groups of guys I have ever coached. They are super-competitive; they try to beat each other at everything,” said Quince Orchard head coach John Kelley. “It pays off in the end because it’s a group of guys that like to compete. They’re like me, I like to compete, I love it. I think that’s what ended up making us champions tonight, was that resiliency and that desire to compete. I told them they’re going to remember this for the rest of their lives. They’re the 2018 4A state champs.”