After an historic season-opener in which Quince Orchard High School’s football team beat Sherwood in Sandy Spring for the first time in Cougars coach Dave Mencarini’s tenure, senior wide receiver D’Andre Johnson said, “Every time I touch the ball, I’m going to try to score.”
Friday, in front of a packed grandstand on an unseasonably hot August night, he came close.
The 5-foot-8, 165-pound catalyst scored two electrifying touchdowns — a 49-yard reception and a 46-yard run — on four touches to help Quince Orchard to a convincing 28-12 victory.
“Last year, I didn’t get this many opportunities. Now I’m making it work,” Johnson said.
Junior quarterback Mike Murtaugh, making his first varsity start, played like a seasoned veteran, completing 9 of his 15 pass attempts for 181 yards and the touchdown flick to Johnson. He also rushed for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“It’s awesome. We’ve never won at this field. We made history,” Murtaugh said, at a loss for words at the end of his statement.
Johnson’s touchdown catch capped a textbook opening drive for the Cougars, who ran the ball six times for 31 yards before taking to the air. On Sherwood’s ensuing possession, senior quarterback Jordan Larsen had a pass deflected at the line of scrimmage and Carlo St. Regis returned it 7 yards for a touchdown.
Before the boisterous student sections had time to insult one another through chant, it was 14-0 Cougars.
“We gave those big plays away. That first 14 we gave them hurt, too,” Sherwood coach Mike Bonavia said. “They’re a very good football team. I just hope we get to see them one more time before this thing ends.”
Leading 14-6 at halftime, Sherwood junior Elijah Spottswood made a play that could have turned the momentum in the Warriors’ favor. The elusive returner fielded the ball at his own 10 before getting bunched up amid oncoming tacklers at midfield. Then the players stopped as if they heard a whistle, but Spottswood continued running, 90 yards to the end zone. Mencarini later said the referees told him a whistle was blown from the stands, not on the field, causing the confusion.
Quince Orchard fumbled on its ensuing possession, but Sherwood stalled and missed a 39-yard field goal.
Early in the fourth quarter, Johnson gave the Cougars insurance when he bounced off-tackle and broke loose for his second score.
“I had to work for that one, most definitely. I just kept pushing the motor and it led me to the end zone,” Johnson said.
Sherwood managed only four first downs in the second half, all of which came with less than five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Quince Orchard’s defense, led by linebacker Marcus Newby, was simply too quick and too imposing at the line. The Warriors rushed 32 times for 66 yards. By comparison, the Cougars gained 133 yards on 45 attempts.
Quince Orchard will be holding its breath, however, as star tailback Tyrell Williams exited the game in the second quarter with an apparent injury. Mencarini said the extent of the 6-foot, 210-pound back’s ailment is unknown. Keano Wilder stepped in nicely in the second half, carrying the ball 17 times for 55 yards.
“It’s a big deal for the program and the kids [to win at Sherwood]. That’s how you win a ballgame,” Mencarini said. “You go through the highs and lows.”
Quince Orchard 28, Sherwood 12
Quince Orchard (1-0) 14 0 0 14 — 28
Sherwood (0-1) 0 6 6 0 — 12
QO — D’Andre Johnson 49 pass from Mike Murtaugh (Jake Barkdoll kick), 9:08
QO —Carlo St. Regis 7 interception return (Jake Barkdoll kick), 7:15
S — Rich DiPietro 2 run (kick blocked), 7:33
S — Elijah Spottswood 90 kickoff return (run failed), 11:42
QO — D’Andre Johnson 46 run (Jake Barkdoll kick), 9:43
QO — Mike Murtaugh 1 run (Jake Barkdoll kick), 4:32
Quince Orchard — Keano Wilder 17-55, D’Andre Johnson 3-55, Michael Kissiedu 6-19, Tyrell Williams 7-17, Mike Murtaugh 12-(-13)
Sherwood — Moses Vines 13-19, Trent Tirado 2-18, Khalid Moultrie 3-11, Jordan Larsen 6-10, Fitz Mofor 2-7, Rich Dipietro 2-4, Ryan Warren 1-(-1), Elijah Spottswood 3-(-2)
Quince Orchard — Mike Murtaugh 9-15-181-0
Sherwood — Jordan Larsen 7-22-105-2
Quince Orchard — Elliott Davis 3-78, Matt Choi 5-54, D’Andre Johnson 1-49
Sherwood — Trent Tirado 1-33, Ryan Warren 2-27, Donte Thomas 1-21, Brandon Loiacono 1-10, Khalid Moultrie 1-8, Jordan Johnson 1-6