DAMASCUS – The Damascus varsity football team earned its 25th victory in a row and advanced to the 3A West regional final Friday with a 21-7 playoff win over Linganore at the Hornets’ Nest.
Hornets running back Markus Vinson provided the lone bright spot in a game riddled with Damascus penalties. The senior rushed for 179 yards and scored all three Hornets touchdowns.
“We just have to stay mentally strong and finish the game,” said Vinson. “It felt good scoring and getting points for the team but I know that more people could have gotten into the end zone today.”
The defending state champion Swarmin’ Hornets own the Montgomery County record with 19 straight playoff appearances and haven’t lost a game in three seasons.
After all, the cornerstone of Damascus football is stifling opposing offenses and scoring at least 40 points per game.
The 2016 Hornets, however, seem to be losing steam.
For the second week in a row, Damascus failed to score any points in the second half. The Hornets’ 21 points tied for the lowest number of points the team has scored all season.
The team’s decline in play is a jarring wakeup call.
“We’re not playing our best and we’ve got to clean some things up,” said Damascus Head Coach Eric Wallich. “They’re playing good competition but they’re petering out and we’ve got to find an answer.”
Meanwhile, the Lancers’ offense struggled with three-and-outs and didn’t score until there were two minutes left in the game.
Linganore senior wide receiver Quinn Waxter ran a kick return 59 yards to set up junior running back Zamarre Snowden’s four-yard touchdown. Snowden finished with 77 yards on the night.
Vinson, however, didn’t waste any time as he scored on back-to-back Damascus possessions.
The senior darted into the end zone from four yards out to put six on the board for the Hornets. Freshman kicker Junior Baires missed the extra point.
Several plays later, Vinson shoved his way through the Linganore defenders at the goal line for a two-yard touchdown.
The senior made it look easy when he found the end zone for a third time for a seven-yard score on the Hornets’ next possession.
Damascus’ offensive line created a large hole and Vinson busted through untouched for the hat trick touchdown.
This time, Wallich called for the two-point conversion.
Hornets senior quarterback Wade Rippeon’s pass caught Vinson in stride to add another two points on the board for Damascus.
“It doesn’t matter how you win as long as you win,” said Wallich. “The fact that we didn’t play our best football and we still won and beat a good football team, that’s always a positive.”
Lancers Head Coach Rick Conner said that even in defeat, his team still played with heart.
“My kids play hard and when you play hard, you’ve got a shot,” he said. “This team has come so far. (During) week six, we were 3-3 and we looked like we weren’t going to make it to the playoffs. These are tough kids and I’m real proud of them.”
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