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After 38 carries Saturday, Quince Orchard senior Mark Green was “cold out of his mind.”
Figuratively, he warmed up when Montgomery County's top-ranked public school football team needed him most.
The “best player in the county,” according to Cougars' coach Dave Mencarini, ripped off a 21-yard touchdown run with a little more than 3 minutes remaining as host Quince Orchard notched a 9-6 victory against previously unbeaten Seneca Valley. In miserable cold, rainy conditions that affected the course of the game substantially, Green was the one constant, finishing with a personal-record 263 yards rushing.
“I'm shivering, but I think I deserve to be,” said Green, who also fell on five mishandled quarterback exchanges. “This is what we do at QO.”
Indeed, winning is what the Cougars (5-0) do better than any of their peers at the moment. No team in the county has a higher winning percentage since 2004, but Green was referring to the way they won.
Beginning with the first of two interceptions thrown by quarterback Lucas Bogart, snatched by Screaming Eagles sophomore Austen Herbert in the first quarter, Quince Orchard “did everything to give this game away,” Mencarini said. Three dropped passes and numerous unforced fumbles slowed drives, and even when Seneca Valley (4-1) was backed near its own goal line midway through the fourth quarter, two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties threatened to seal the Cougars' fate.
Quince Orchard's only scoring until that point came in the second quarter, when Seneca Valley punter Junior Arcaro tapped a poor snap through the back of the end zone for a safety. Later in the second period, Seneca Valley got its only points of the game when running back James Jones-Williams burst through the line for a 71-yard touchdown. Even with the missed extra point, the Eagles led until deep in the fourth quarter.
“Ever since I've been here, our kids have found a way to win games like this,” Mencarini said. “Our defense is always going to keep us in games, and we knew eventually, 6 [Green's jersey number] would break one.”
It was an eerily similar result 11 months ago on the same field, when the two teams met in the 3A West Region semifinals. Seneca Valley led by 15 points in a game Mencarini said “was the worst I think we've ever played,” but Green's 207 rushing yards and game-winning touchdown run saved the day.
The Cougars's offense had yet to score with just 4 minutes, 25 seconds remaining Saturday, but their last-ditch drive just required just four plays.Green started it with a bruising 35-yard run through a slew of defenders and capped it by diving into the left corner of the end zone.
“Their line couldn't get to the outside like our line,” Green said.
Seneca Valley had one more possession, but Quince Orchard linebacker Carlo St. Regis hurried quarterback Tanner Valley into an off-target, fourth down pass.
“To win like this,” Mencarini said, “means everything.”
Quince Orchard 9, Seneca Valley 6
Seneca Valley (4-1) 0 6 0 0 6
Quince Orchard (5-0) 0 2 0 7 9
Q: Safety, Arcaro kick out of end zone
S: Jones-Williams 71 run (kick failed)
Q: Green 21 run (McPherson kick)
RUSHING—S: Jones-Williams 14-112; Valley 3-(-8); Ikossie 2-2; Staton 2-1. Q: Green 38-263; Lang 8-44; Bogard 8-(-14).
PASSING—S: Vallely 5-13-1-31-0. Q: Bogart 7-14-2-37-0.
RECEIVING—S: White 1-9; Joppy 1-8; Ikossie 1-7; Smith 1-4; Cunningham 1-3. Q: Williams 3-15; Greenspan 2-15; David 2-7.