Northwest High School sophomore quarterback Mark Pierce passed for 331 yards and four touchdowns to hand Quince Orchard High School its first loss of the season Friday night.
The Quince Orchard defense gave up a total of 26 points all season before facing Northwest, which put up 35 points and crossed the goal line five times in the 35-21 victory.
“It was a huge win, I can't explain it,” Pierce said after upsetting the Cougars. “We were definitely the underdog. Nobody expected us to win this game… All we had to do was be physical. We played close to a perfect game and it paid off.”
Pierce connected with six different receivers, including senior wide out Matt Watson for two of his scores, one of which came on an 86-yard strike down the right sideline late in the third quarter to extend the Jaguar lead to 15.
Fellow wide receiver Joshua Gills caught the other two scores from Pierce.
“Everyone just executed well,” Gills said. “[We] dominated on both sides of the ball, [we] stuck to our assignments. Everything just went well for us tonight.”
It seemed like the Jaguar defense limited the Cougar offense every time it needed a stop. Quince Orchard senior quarterback Mike Murtaugh threw for 201 yards and two touchdowns but could not figure out the Northwest defense in the fourth quarter, failing on multiple chances to mount a comeback.
“It wasn't really our night,” Murtaugh said following his final home game as a Cougar. “We got beat up front, [linebackers] were blitzing — sometimes we didn't pick them up well — so we've got to get better from here on out.”
Senior tailback Kevin Joppy rushed for 95 yards and a touchdown in an effort to keep the game close but every time Quince Orchard found the end zone Northwest answered, forcing Murtaugh to air it out.
The senior quarterback stayed positive after the loss, knowing the Cougars had already clinched a playoff berth.
“A loss doesn't define us,” Murtaugh said. “We're going to come back stronger…. We've just got to focus on the little things. [Northwest] outworked us today, we can't come out flat. We've just got to keep working and keep on our grind.”
Murtaugh marched Quince Orchard down the field in the hurry-up offense after a Northwest three-and-out to begin the second half.
He tossed a 12-yard score to senior Elliott Davis with seven and a half minutes left in the third quarter to cut the lead to eight. But Pierce lofted a beautiful deep-ball into the hands of Watson just before the end of the third quarter to get the points right back.
Running back E.J. Lee led Northwest on the ground, picking up 69 tough yards on 19 carries. The junior provided a much-needed change of pace for the Jaguars, who relied on the passing game for much of the contest.
“The bus ride home, I can tell you right now, is gonna be crazy,” Gills said.
Northwest 35, Quince Orchard 21
Northwest (7-2) 0 21 7 0—35
Quince Orchard (8-1) 0 7 6 8—21
N—Joshua Gills 2 pass from Mark Pierce (kick good)
N—Rasheed Gillis 1 run (kick good)
QO—Kevin Joppy 10 run (kick good)
N—Joshua Gills 13 pass from Mark Pierce (kick good)
QO—Elliott Davis 12 pass from Mike Murtaugh (kick failed)
N—Matt Watson 86 pass from Mark Pierce (kick good)
N—Matt Watson 20 pass from Mark Pierce (kick good)
QO—Elliott Davis 6 pass from Mike Murtaugh (Mike Murtaugh pass from Malcolm Brown for 2)
Northwest—E.J. Lee 19-69, Mark Pierce 3-31, Joshua Gills 6-14, Rasheed Gillis 4-14, Matt Watson 1-13
Quince Orchard—Kevin Joppy 16-95, Kyle Green 5-25, Shawn Barlow 6-13, Preston Bampoe-Addo 1-4, Mike Murtaugh 1-2, Malcolm Brown 1-(-2)
Northwest—Mark Pierce 19-29-331-1
Quince Orchard—Mike Murtaugh 15-30-201-0, Malcolm Brown 1-1-2-0
Northwest—Matt Watson 3-113, Trint Coulter 4-83, Joshua Gills 6-72, Luke Pierce 4-53, E.J. Lee 1-3, Aaron-David Beidleman 1-7
Quince Orchard—Elliott Davis 6-66, Preston Bampoe-Addo 3-51, Malcolm Brown 1-33, Kevin Joppy 3-31, Greg Williams 1-12, Mike Murtaugh 1-2, Shawn Barlow 1-2