On its senior night, Northern used a 24-point outburst in the first half to pull away from Great Mills and earn a 44-14 win in a Southern Maryland Athletic Conference Potomac Division battle on Friday night.
“I was really glad we could get a lot of the kids in on senior night tonight so they had a chance to get out on the field and experience that,” Patriots head coach Steve Crounse said. “I thought the kids played really well and executed.”
The only score in the opening quarter was a 21-yard field goal converted by Patriots sophomore Ty Fleming as the hosts led 3-0 after one quarter of play.
“[Northern] is a great team. They came out to play and were hungry for it,” Hornets head coach Tyrone Bell said. “I know they are trying to make a run right now. Crounse is a great coach and we knew what kind of opponent we were going to face.”
In the second quarter, Northern senior Rex Fleming scored two rushing touchdowns out of the Wildcat formation from 10 and six yards out to push Northern in front 18-0 with 5 minutes 58 seconds left in the first half.
“I was really happy with the effort and thought we executed in all phases of the game,” Crounse said. “We threw a couple of wrinkles out there that gives us a little more weaponry when we go on offense. I am really proud of the boys.”
Before the half, Northern sophomore quarterback Zach Crounse connected with sophomore wide receiver Tyler Baskett for a 63-yard touchdown pass with 3:01 left in the second quarter.
“This was a good comeback game for us and we are still trying to find our identity right now as we are into the playoff push,” Steve Crounse said. “We are trying to clean things up and play fast and see if all that hard work in the offseason pays off here down the stretch.”
In the second half, Rex Fleming scored his third rushing touchdown out of the wildcat formation from 15 yards out to put the hosts in front 31-0 with 1:49 left in the third quarter.
Great Mills, playing without its starting quarterback Terrell London this week, scored its first points on the night with 31 seconds left in the third quarter on a 36-yard touchdown pass from backup sophomore quarterback Nicholas Feldman to Jevontae Fearwell.
“Our quarterback [London] was out for the week, so that took away our QB-run game,” Bell said. “Our backup kid [Feldman] is only a sophomore, and he actually did pretty well. We did a lot of good things out there, so we just have to grow off of that.”
Northern (5-2, 3-1 SMAC Potomac) appeared poised to add onto its total with the ball at the 1-yard line with about eight minutes left in the game, but a bad snap led to a 99-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Great Mills’ Daelandre’ Barnes with 7:15 remaining.
“I think some of the things we didn’t do were the simple things like using your hands coming off the ball and who’s got who in the man-to-man coverage,” Bell said. “This is the stuff that last week we were able to do it, and then this week it completely slipped our mind. We will go back and practice and keep working on the same things over and over again and get better at it.”
Great Mills (2-5, 1-4) will look for a win at St. Charles in a 7 p.m. Friday contest. The Spartans defeated North Point 27-21 in overtime in Week 7.
The Patriots added two touchdowns within a minute of each other about halfway through the final quarter on a 65-yard rushing touchdown from senior Keith Parks and a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown from senior Brian Wallace.
“A lot of these seniors were the kids that started with me when I came here to Northern. They really bought into what we were trying to do and believed in what we were doing,” Steve Crounse said. “I really couldn’t be any happier with those kids that played as sophomores for me and all the seniors. It was an emotional move and these kids were ready to heal up as a program and get that respect back. I think they’ve done that. Anything you see in the future from Northern football is really based on the commitment they made.”
Northern will travel on the road to face county rival and undefeated Huntingtown for a game scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday. The Hurricanes went to 7-0 after a 49-0 win over Leonardtown in Week 7.