QO Cougars rise to the challenge, defeating Blair 34-7

JGS 0777 1QO running back Marquez Cooper (15) is brought down by Blair defensive tackle Oly Okumbi (57). PHOTO BY JACQUI SOUTH  After comfortably beating the B-CC Barons at home to kick off the season, the Quince Orchard Cougars faced a much stiffer challenge as they went on the road to face the Blair Blazers. But it was a challenge that the Cougars would yet again pass with flying colors, winning the game 34-7.

The opening minutes of the game were a struggle for both teams, as the first few drives for each team all ended in punts. Penalties were an issue for both teams in the early going. The Blazers’ defensive front, led by junior Oly Okumbi, stymied the Cougars rushing attack early on. Both QO quarterback Doc Bonner and running back Marquez Cooper struggled to find open holes to burst through.

The Blazers strong defense play would be rewarded, as Blair would draw first blood. On QO’s opening drive of the second quarter, the Blazers forced a Cougars punt. Johnny Hodges, the Cougars star linebacker, was sent out to punt the ball away. However, Hodges had trouble with the snap, and the Blazers pounced on the ball. Prince Bonsu returned the recovered fumble to the end zone for a Blair touchdown, and after the extra point, Blair led 7-0.

But the game turned steeply downhill for the Blazers after their opening touchdown, as Bonner and the Cougars would completely take the game over. On the ensuing QO drive, Bonner finally was able to run the ball effectively, and single-handedly carried his team down the field. Bonner would muscle his way into the end zone, and the Cougars tied the game up at seven.

JGS 0809QO’s Mike Fierstein (52) lifts Tyler Terry (6) in celebration after Terry scores a touchdown. PHOTO BY JACQUI SOUTH  The Cougars would get the ball right back with 2:36 to play in the first half, and the Cougars looked to strike quickly. Bonner had wide receiver Brendan McGonagle wide open deep downfield along the Blair sideline, but just underthrew him, and Blair was able to break up the pass. But just a few plays later, Bonner had the same opportunity, and this time he didn’t miss. McGonagle hauled in this pass attempt, and backpedaled into the end zone to give his team the lead. Going into the half, QO led 14-7.

The Cougars kept the momentum in the second half, as their defense continued to dominate. Bonner threw a touchdown pass to Tyler Terry in the third quarter, and Blair increased their lead to 20-7 after a failed point after. In the fourth, the Cougars continued to pile it on, scoring 14 points in the quarter. One score came on a Bonner run up the middle, and the other via a Tre Wade rushing score. When the final whistle blew, QO had won 34-7.

The Cougars offense struggled early, but was able to get rolling late. When his team was struggling on offense, Bonner was told by the QO coaches to take some more control. As opposed to the previous week’s win over B-CC where Bonner only threw the ball 10 times, and spent most of the game handing the ball off to running backs, Bonner was relied on to carry the load of the running game, and also kickstart the offense through his passing. “We had to get yards the way that we can,” Bonner said. “We had to switch it up a little bit, get them off balance with me running a little bit, passing.”

However, the biggest storyline from this game was the Cougars defense. QO did not allow an offensive touchdown in the win, and looked flat out dominant from wire to wire. The QO front seven was excellent against B-CC and it continued to play at a high level against the Blazers. Blair continually tried to establish the run until they were far enough behind that they were forced to pass. But the Cougars front seven didn’t allow running room for the entire game, unlike Blair which only was able to keep that level of play up through part of the first half. “I’m happy, that’s good for our defense,” QO head coach John Kelley said after the game. “”I think our defense is pretty solid, and I was happy with the way those guys played.”

The win improved QO to 2-0 and dropped Blair to 1-1. Next week, the Cougars go on the road again to face Clarksburg (1-1), while Blair will get a visit from Wheaton (1-1).



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