ANNAPOLIS — In a rematch of last year’s 4A State title game, the Dr. Henry A. Wise Pumas lifted the trophy yet again Friday, defeating the Quince Orchard Cougars 38-20.
While the score appears lopsided, it wasn’t until the very end where Wise pulled away. The two teams traded punches through the first three and a half quarters of the game.
Quince Orchard offense led by star quarterback Doc Bonner took the field for a crucial drive after falling behind 25-14 to Wise. With less than five minutes to play, the Cougars needed Bonner to lead a scoring drive in order to stay in the game.
Instead, defensive back Anthony Lytton provided the big play that Wise needed in order to win the game. Lytton intercepted a Bonner pass, and rushed for a 39-yard touchdown on the next play. The Pumas had iced the game, and were just three minutes from winning their third straight State title.
“They’d been running that play the whole game,” Lytton said of his interception. “I just sat there and intercepted the ball, got kinda hyped.”
“All year on reverses I’ve been running out of bounds,” Lytton continued on his game-winning touchdown. “At practice I’d be hearing, ‘You gotta cut up.’ I finally listened and scored off of that. Put my foot in the ground and scored.”
QO made a defensive stand on the goal line to keep Wise out on their opening possession. The Cougars kept the momentum going as a 50-yard Bonner run set up a Marquez Cooper touchdown, giving the Cougars a 7-0 lead.
The Pumas responded and tied the game on their next possession, and took a 13-7 on a David Medley rushing score on the drive after that.
QO got the ball back after halftime, drove down the field and ended Wise’s lead with a Bonner-to-Brendan McGonagle passing touchdown, putting the Cougars ahead 14-13.
The back-and-forth continued in the third quarter. After forcing a Wise punt, QO got the ball back, and picked up a first down on a pass to Aaron Derwin. However, Derwin had the ball ripped out by Wise defensive back Demetri Morsell. Morsell recovered and the Pumas took over. Though QO came right back, and Aaron Green picked off Wise quarterback Quinton Williams in the end zone.
This, however, is where the back-and-forth came to a close. The Wise defense shut down the Cougars right after the interception, and it would be all Wise from there on.
QO still led 14-13 at the start of the fourth quarter, but Wise went on to outscore the Cougars 25-6 in the fourth quarter, capped off by a John Oliver-rushing touchdown, his third of the day, to seal the win. Oliver rushed for 221 yards on 31 carries in addition to the three scores.
“Let’s break them,” Wise head coach DaLawn Parrish said of his team pulling away in the fourth quarter. “They are ready to be broke. All we gotta do is finish this.”
Though, QO certainly didn’t help themselves with multiple late mistakes including the Bonner interception and a fumbled kickoff recovered by Wise.
The Pumas cap off the year with a 14-0 record, its third straight 4A title and its 42nd consecutive win.
“It’s stressful,” Parrish said of the winning streak. “I was talking to my family, and I said ‘You know the American dream is always to see somebody on top, somebody come from nothing. Now, it seems like in today’s society, the American dream is to have somebody down.’”
For the third straight time, however, Wise is the one on top.
The stars for Wise surely stepped up on the biggest stage. Oliver carried his team to the win with his 221 yards and three touchdowns, adding to his rushing total that already surpassed 1100 yards. Lytton, a four-star recruit and Florida State commit, made the big plays his team needed late in the game to make sure they left Annapolis with a win.
Quince Orchard finished 2017 with a 12-2 record and as the State runner-up for the second straight year. “I’m proud of our kids,” said QO head coach John Kelley. “We had a lead going into the fourth quarter, can’t ask for more than that in the State championship game. Had a few miscues there in the fourth quarter that kinda turned the game in the other direction. Again, our kids competed the whole entire game. I’m proud of how they competed.”
“You gotta compete, and tonight, we did that,” Bonner said. “Obviously, watching film we were like, ‘We got a chance with these guys’ and obviously it showed.”
Bonner played exceptionally well in this game, rushing for 165 yards while throwing for 118 yards and two touchdowns. Bonner suffered an injury in last year’s game against Wise, and was unable to finish the game. Despite the loss, Bonner said he was proud to complete the game this year with all of his teammates, many of whom played hurt.
QO will be losing many key players to graduation, none more impactful than Bonner. Bonner rewrote the record books at QO, and will play at Dartmouth next year. Wise, on the other hand, returns next year with their starting quarterback Quinton Williams, as well as top receivers Isaiah Hazel and Jalil Farooq. Wise will also have a chance next year to set the all-time consecutive wins record for Maryland. However, that record isn’t what’s on the mind of the Pumas coming into next year.
“Would I love to win 50 in a row? Of course,” Parrish said. “But if you had to pick, for me, to win 50 in a row or win this title again, give me the title.”