Back and forth, it went.
The King’s Trophy, the golden cup and crown that is awarded to the winner of the annual Battle of Germantown, has been going back and forth between Seneca Valley and Northwest for the last four years.
Back and forth — like Northwest senior running back Khalil Owens who ran for 160 yards and four touchdowns to help the Jags go on the road and take back the Trophy and bragging rights.
Back and forth —like the lead in Friday night’s match up. The Screaming Eagles jumped out to an early lead marching the opening kickoff right down the Jags throats, using the same weapons Seneca Valley used to bludgeon Northwest with durign their last meeting – senior running backs Adrian Platt and Darius Golston. Platt would score twice, and Golston once.
The opening drive featured a 50-yard Adrian Platt off-tackle run which put the Screaming Eagles deep in Jaguars territory. With help from an encroachment call on Northwest, two plays later Platt was falling over the goal line for a one-yard touchdown and putting Seneca Valley up 7-0 in the early going. The PAT from Manasseh Joaquin was good.
Northwest would answer on their next drive. The Jags and junior quarterback Chris Craddock came out throwing after good kick coverage from Seneca pinned Northwest inside the 15-yard line. Craddock would move the Jags down the field with third-down passes to Austin Riel, and Juwon Farri. An impressive 20-yard run by Owens would put the Jags in scoring position and be a harbinger of things to come for the Eagles he powered his way through tackles for a first down.
Farri would run the ball down to the five-yard line, from there Craddock would throw over the middle to senior tight end Deion Mason in the endzone to tie the game at 7-7. Northwest’s kicker Nicholas Nicholas would hit the PAT.
Back and forth.
Seneca Valley would start at their own 40 yard-line thanks to a nice return by Derell Beckett-Simms and a block-in-the-back penalty on Northwest. Golston and Platt would pound the ball down to the Northwest 17 yard-line. Senior quarterback Zack Robinson completed a pass to Dawayne Kelley for a first down to the 7 yard-line. However, the drive would stall as Northwest’s defense was able to stuff three straight runs, as the Jags DeAndre Jules and DeJaun Cooper combined to stop Platt on second down, and cornerback Wesley McCormick wrapped up Platt long enough to let Luke Patterson bring him to the ground on third down, forcing Seneca to attempt a field goal.
The Jags kept Seneca Valley out of the endzone, but the Screaming Eagles recaptured the lead 10-7 after an 18-yard field goal by Harold Dotson.
Back and forth.
After the kickoff, it was Seneca Valley’s defense’s turn to make a stop. The Jags’ drive was never really got going, as Craddock misfired on a screen pass to Owens resulting in a loss. The Jags punted. Robinson and the Seneca offense would take over at their own 10-yard line and move backward on a sack by Northwest’s Justin Orem, moving the Eagles back to their own 1-yard line. Golston would pound the ball out to the 10-yard line to give the Seneca punter some breathing room.
Owens returned the punt for a touchdown, but a penalty call negated the score. Northwest would drive the ball into Seneca territory after a pair of runs by Farri and pass from Craddock to receiver Norval Black. A long run by Owens to the two-yard line would be called back to the 17 on a holding penalty.
Craddock would scramble down to the one-yard line. The run set up the first of Owens’ four touchdowns to put the Jags back on top 14-10 at the end of the first half.
Back and forth.
“This game means everything,” said Owens who finished the game with 160 yards rushing. “This is a huge game; both teams want to win this game. We all grew up together, we all want to beat each other. We just want this, and fortunately, my teammates went out and got this win.”
Last year, as a junior Owens was an impressive runner, but in Friday night’s Battle for the King’s Trophy, against a tough Seneca Valley defensive team, he put Montgomery County on notice that he’s ready to dominate.
“We hadn’t seen all of his talents in one game like this before,” said Northwest Head Coach Mike Neubeiser. “He had a great offseason, he ran track and got faster. He did everything he could to increase his speed a little bit. He hit the weight room. He looks like a monster. It is all coming together for him.”
After halftime, the Jags hoped to add to their lead by taking the second half kick and driving for a score, but Seneca Valley would hold, and Seneca would take over.
Northwest’s senior linebacker Sam Pagella would sack Robinson moving the Eagles back on first down. Pagella would come up huge on the next play making a solo touchdown saving tackle on Adrian Feliz-Platt after, Platt was able to turn the corner and head down field.
“This game means so much to me,” said Pagella. “We treat this game like a state championship game. Seneca is a huge rival. It is all about bragging rights. It is the game we come into the offseason preparing for every single day. We always think about Seneca.”
As a defensive leader, Pagella was one of the guys tasked with stopping Seneca’s one-two-punch of Platt and Golston, a duo that punished Northwest in last year’s Seneca victory. “Those guys are great running backs,” he said referring to Platt and Golston. “Last year we were so upset that we lost at home. This offseason we knew we had to come back and stop them. Our defense was up to the challenge to contain them better than we did last year. We tried to make their offense rotate around other players than those two guys.”
Coach Neubeiser said the Jags have been thinking about stopping Seneca’s dynamic duo since the first day of camp. “We did a lot of tackling drills,” he said. “We’ve been focusing on tackling since August 10. We put a big emphasis on it, and what you work really hard at you tend to get better at, but those two guys are tremendous football players, and that is a great football team.”
While Northwest was able to contain Platt, they were not able to shut him down. As the drive continued, he would scamper for a big gain setting up the Golston to take back the lead with a 10-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. The kick would fail, but Seneca had reclaimed the lead 16-14.
Back and forth.
However, this night belonged to Khalil Owens. Set up by a good return by Farri, Northwest took over at their one 37 yard line. Owens put the Jags on top with a 50-yard run sweep down the left sideline. Nicholas’ kick was good. Northwest took the lead back 21-16 with 6:08 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Back and forth.
Both teams would trade possession after being forced to punt in the third quarter. As the fourth quarter began, the Screaming Eagles were primed to counter-strike on the next drive. Two plays for positive yards had the home crowd anticipating a drive ending with an Eagle in the endzone, but it was not to be. Senior quarterback Zack Robinson would lose the handle on the ball while faking a hand-off and Northwest would recover.
The Jags were set up 1st and ten at the Seneca 45 yard-line with the opportunity to put the game away. An opportunity that Khalil Owens would take full advantage of as he willed himself into the endzone breaking five tackles and shrugging off two Seneca defenders, on a 31-yard touchdown run. It was Owens’ statement run, and it gave Northwest the lead for good, 28-16 with 8:31 remaining in the game.
But Adrian Feliz-Platt and Seneca Valley weren’t done. A long pass from Robinson to Kelley would set up a Platt’s second touchdown of the game on a 15-yard run to cut the lead to 28-23, and keep hope alive for the Seneca faithful that the King’s Trophy would remain on Crystal Rock Drive.
Back and forth.
Seneca would get a chance to come back. The Eagles defense forced Northwest into a three and out, stopping the Jags cold and forcing a punt. Platt, Golston and company would take over on their own 30 yard-line with 3:45 remaining in the game. After a short gain by Golston, the Eagles tried two long passes which missed their mark. The missed passes and an illegal man downfield penalty forced Coach Fred Kim and Seneca to go for it on fourth and 15 from their own 26-yard line. Robinson would find Platt on a short pass over the middle, but he would be taken down just short of the first down marker by Sam Pagella, giving the Jags the ball in Seneca territory with 2:39 seconds remaining.
The Jags would pound the ball down to the Seneca goal-line and on second down, Khalil Owens would score his fourth touchdown of the night diving over the goal line on an off-tackle play. Northwest would win 35-23 and take the King’s Trophy home.
Next week the Jags will host Blair, while Seneca Valley will be on the road at Churchill. Blair is coming off of a 42-12 drubbing of BCC, and Churchill lost their second straight, losing 31-16 to Einstein Friday night.
Top: Northwest’s senior running back Khalil Owens (4) ran for 160 yards and four touchdowns in Friday’s 35-23 victory.
Next: Seneca Valley senior Adrian Feliz-Platt (7) scored twice for the Screaming Eagles.
Next: Northwest quarterback, junior Chris Craddock (12) throws a touchdown pass to tight end Deion Mason for the Jags’ first score of the night.
Next: Darius Golston (32) is the second part of Seneca Valley’s dynamic duo in the backfield.
Next: Khalil Owens (4) flies for his first touchdown of the night, as he dives over the goal line.
Next: Northwest running back Juwon Farri (8).
Next: Khalil Owens wills himself into the end zone on a 31 touchdown run, shrugging off Seneca Valley defenders.
Next: Owens (4) scores his fourth touchdown on a one-yard dive.
Next: The Northwest Jags reclaim the King’s Trophy and the title of Kings of Germantown.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.
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