- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Brendan Galligan said he didn’t do a particularly good job as Huntingtown special teams coach in Friday’s Class 3A South Region semifinal matchup against visiting Friendly of Prince George’s County.
“We were very bad on special teams and I'm the special teams coach, so it's all on me,” said Galligan, referring to some miscommunication, several drops and a partially blocked punt. “The special teams coach needs to get better. The kids are playing hard and we made some mistakes and I have to do a better job of coaching that.”
But Galligan has some pretty good job security as he is also the team’s head coach and he will live to coach at least one more week as the host Hurricanes rolled to a 49-12 win over the visiting Patriots.
With the win, the top-seeded Hurricanes (10-1 overall) will host second-seeded Westlake, which defeated Potomac of Prince George’s County 41-30 in the other 3A South semifinal, in the regional championship game at 7 p.m. Friday.
The Wolverines handed Huntingtown its only loss of the season following a 14-7 win on Oct. 19.
“We told our kids, 'There's not too many times you get a chance for redemption' and fortunately for us we get it,” Galligan said.
“Revenge is huge to us,” said Huntingtown senior lineman/linebacker Tyler Sullivan. “It was killer when we lost to them earlier.”
While Galligan was not pleased with his role as special teams coach, Huntingtown defensive coach Kevin Gilligan deserves a hefty raise to say the least as the Hurricanes forced seven Friendly turnovers and turned those into 35 points.
“We heard they were giving up turnovers a lot,” Sullivan said, “so we knew we had to capitalize on that and that was a huge part of our win today.”
When linebacker Austin Kline picked off a pass and returned it 36 yards for the touchdown, it was Huntingtown’s first defensive points of the year.
“We always emphasize getting turnovers, getting the defensive score,” Galligan said. “It's something we practice a lot.”
Patriots quarterback Thomas Corbett was intercepted three times in as many pass attempts as Huntingtown tacked on 21 points in the fourth quarter.
“We turned the ball over to them too much and my hat's off to them, they played well,” Friendly head coach Peter Quaweay said. “We have [committed turnovers during the year], but today was bad. We played poorly. When you turn the ball over like that in a game against a good team, you're not going to win.”
The Hurricanes held the fourth-seeded Patriots (6-5) to just 108 yards through the air 71 of them coming on a long touchdown in the second quarter and just 32 yards on the ground. Eleven of Friendly’s 22 rushing attempts went for no yards or negative yardage.
“We played hard and practiced hard during the week and it helped us a lot,” said Huntingtown running back Arnez Bowens, who rushed for 109 yards and three scores. “The defense stepped up and we played a good game.”
The Hurricanes jumped out to the lead when Bowens made several would-be tacklers miss on his way to a 23-yard score late in the first quarter.
Friendly fumbled on the ensuing kickoff and Kline recovered to set Huntingtown up at the Patriots’ 32.
Two plays later, Josh Woodburn hauled in a 25-yard scoring toss from quarterback Zach Piazza (9 of 15 passing, 107 yards).
Patriots strike back
The five-time state champion Patriots came right back.
Despite facing a daunting third down and 32 from their own 29, Corbett dropped a perfectly thrown ball into the hands of RaVon Davis, who juggled the ball briefly before racing down the left sideline for a 71-yard score.
“That was pretty deflating,” Galligan said of the quick-strike touchdown. “That was a big play. The situation was pretty frustrating because we practice situational football a lot, but our kids responded, they bounced back.”
And they did with a nine-play, 61-yard drive that ended with Bowen’s 15-yard score. Bowen would add another touchdown from two yards out with just over a minute left in the half to put Huntingtown in control, 28-6, at the break.
“We got hot,” Galligan said of his team’s two late scores. “Our line was clicking a little bit and our skill guys made some plays.”
Corbett’s three-yard run midway through the third quarter pulled Friendly to within 28-12. The touchdown was set up by Davis’ 26-yard reception during which he out-jumped two defenders.
But Huntingtown pulled away in the fourth quarter when it scored 21 unanswered points off three Corbett interceptions.
Piazza scored the first touchdown on an eight-yard run. The score was set up by Erwin Jones’ interception.
“Anytime you get to see Erwin Jones run with an interception that's very cool,” Galligan said of his senior lineman. “We were wondering this week what he would do if he got one and he was there dragging guys [on the return].”
Kline pounced in front of Corbett’s next pass at the line of scrimmage and had such a good jump on the ball that no defenders gave chase and he virtually waltzed the 36 yards to the end zone.
“I saw the wide receiver go behind the quarterback, so I knew it was a screen,” Kline said. “We practiced it all week, so I jumped the route for the touchdown.”
“He's a good player and we've been close on that play a few times and he made a great play,” Galligan said of Kline, a tight end/linebacker. “He's a great player and I'm glad he's getting some respect, he's due.”
Sullivan stepped in front of Corbett’s next offering, which led to a 15-yard scoring run by Carl Riffe and the final points of the night.
“It was a good season and I'm proud of my kids,” Quaweay said. “My kids worked hard and that's what matters to me is they're working hard in the classroom. Football is just something we do and it matters a lot, but that's not all there is to it. The work they did in the offseason and the work they do in the classroom is what I'm most proud of.”