WALDORF — The visiting Quince Orchard Cougars soundly defeated the North Point Eagles Friday in a 4A state semifinal game, 40-21; the Cougars are now headed back to the state championship game for the second straight year.
Moments after their road victory over North Point, Cougars' senior quarterback Doc Bonner gave a speech to his team in the postgame huddle.
Bonner, a three-year starter, talked to his Quince Orchard teammates about "redemption."
"This means a lot," said Bonner. "All year we knew where we had to go and what we had to do so we wanted to come out each and every game especially in the state playoffs, we wanted to come out and do our jobs and get back to the state championship."
Quince Orchard suffered a disappointing 35-point loss to Wise in last year’s state final but the Cougars now have a chance to redeem themselves.
Bonner, a Dartmouth commit, scored five touchdowns three different ways against North Point. He rushed for two touchdowns, passed for two more and caught the first touchdown of his high school career.
Late in the third quarter, Bonner caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from junior wide receiver Brendan McGonagle.
“It was just a little play we put in a couple weeks ago,” explained Bonner, who tossed a 33-yard touchdown pass to McGonagle in the first quarter. “We never knew we were going to need it and obviously we needed it and so we used it and so we scored obviously.”
Added McGonagle: “We finally did it and it executed perfectly.”
Bonner has passed for more than 2,100 yards and scored on the ground and through the air. He’s thrown for 24 touchdowns and rushed for 15 more scores.
“To be honest with you,” Quince Orchard head coach John Kelley explained, “he’s probably a once-in-a-lifetime type player. You don’t get that many players like him that are going to come through and you’re going to be able to coach so when you have one it’s something special and you’ve got to enjoy it because, again, it doesn’t happen very often.”
Bonner has developed a good chemistry with McGonagle and sophomore running back Marquez Cooper. The trio has helped Quince Orchard reign supreme in Montgomery County. The Cougars are just one win shy of capturing the program’s third state championship and first state crown in a decade.
Cooper, who was moved up to the varsity squad for the playoffs last season, said he feels content to be able to contribute to the team in a more significant way this year.
“It feels good, I’m not going to lie to you,” said Cooper, who has scored a touchdown in all but two games. “I didn’t expect myself to be able to do all this and it just feels amazing.”
The 5-foot-7, 170-pound dynamo has rushed for more than 1,000 yards and scored 18 touchdowns on the ground. He also caught an eight-yard touchdown pass in the playoff win over Northwest.
Meanwhile, the program has also benefitted from the emergence of McGonagle who has caught a touchdown pass in nearly every game this season.
“He’s a good leader and he’s a hard worker in practice,” said Cooper.
McGonagle, a 5-foot-10-inch, 175-pound standout, has hauled in 26 receptions for more than 600 yards and scored ten touchdowns this year.
“I think he’s one of the better receivers in this county,” said Kelley. “I don’t think he gets the credit for that but he’s a heck of a player. He’s only a junior so that’s one of the best parts.”
Quince Orchard (12-1) will face a rematch with unbeaten Wise (13-0) in the 4A state championship game on Friday night at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.
“I look forward to it,” said Bonner. “They’re a great team and we just got to come out and play our best game.”