When Northwest and Quince Orchard’s varsity football teams met for the first time this season three weeks ago, Northwest found itself down three touchdowns after just one quarter of play.
The Jags ultimately fell 41-6 on that rainy night at the Black Hole, but knew they’d most likely get another shot at the Cougars in the playoffs — the two teams had squared off in the postseason five of the past six years.
They would face off again in this year’s 4A West Regional Final, with Quince Orchard (11-1) winning 35-0 over Northwest (9-3) at the Cougar Dome in Gaithersburg Friday evening.
Despite holding the Cougars’ offense scoreless for most of the first half, the Jaguars ended up losing by the same 35-point margin as they had on Oct. 25.
“The result wasn’t much different,” head coach Mike Neubeiser said. “I think we came out and played good defense for a little bit, but we couldn’t move the ball very well and ultimately we end up getting a running clock on us again, so we didn’t end up playing much better.”
Northwest began the game with an early miscue, fumbling the ball away on the opening kickoff return and allowing Quince Orchard’s offense to start deep in Northwest territory at the 19-yard line.
The Cougars had a couple early hiccups of their own, as a bad snap and a personal foul penalty ended up forcing them to punt from their own 46-yard line. The Jags’ next drive would also end in a punt, but the Cougars would return it to the Jags’ 32-yard line with eight and a half minutes left in the first quarter.
Despite converting a fourth-and-5 earlier in the drive, Quince Orchard was held to attempting a 37-yard field goal. The kick fell short and Northwest took over from their own 20-yard line with five minutes left in the quarter.
The Jags’ offense sputtered out and had to punt the ball away, but their defense once again forced the Cougars to punt from the Jags’ end of the field early in the second quarter.
“Defensively, we got some stops and we were playing physical football,” Neubeiser said. “We just lost the field position battle and we couldn’t move the ball enough to get the ball in their end.”
Another Northwest punt with six and a half minutes to play in the half gave the Quince Orchard offense possession at its own 39-yard line. A 26-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Brian Plummer to junior running back Marquez Cooper would move the chains to the Northwest 30-yard line.
On the very next play, running back Jeremiah White scored from 30 yards out to put the Cougars up 7-0 with four minutes left in the half.
The Jags were forced to punt yet again, allowing the Cougars’ offense to continue gaining momentum. A 35-yard run by Cooper to the Jags’ 16-yard line helped set up the Cougars’ next score, courtesy of a 10-yard Cooper run with a minute and a half remaining in the second quarter.
Northwest lined up to punt for the fifth time in the half, but had the punt blocked by senior linebacker Johnny Hodges. Senior defensive tackle Rashaud Thomas would recover in the end zone to push his team’s lead to 20-0 with 55 seconds left before halftime.
The Cougars went three-and-out to start the first quarter, but the Jags’ offense was stuck spinning its wheels in the mud-drenched field. On a drive that began from their own 33-yard line, sophomore quarterback Jordan Morse was sacked on three consecutive plays, with the team eventually punting from their own five-yard line.
With just over five minutes left in the third quarter, Plummer would throw his second touchdown pass of the game, this time from five yards out. Quince Orchard’s two-point conversion attempt was successful, bumping the lead to 28-0.
Northwest would finally drive into Quince Orchard territory on its next possession, but stumbled on a fourth-and-10 at the 49-yard line to turnover on downs.
The Cougars’ final score of the game came less than a minute into the fourth quarter off a 17-yard rushing touchdown. The successful extra point made it 35-0 and started the running clock.
Northwest would fail to get on the board in their final possession, punting and allowing Quince Orchard to run out the clock to cap off the victory.
“I’m proud of the seniors, they played well,” Neubeiser said. “They worked hard and ultimately got to another regional final. It’s good to get to the region. You hope to do a little better, but we were successful in that we had a winning season and we had a lot of wins.”
The Cougars advance to the MPSSAA 4A State Semifinals for the third consecutive year, where they will host the Pumas of Wise High School from Upper Marlboro. The Pumas have handed the Cougars defeats in the past two state championship games.
Top: Quince Orchard running back Jeremiah White scored from 30 yards out to put the Cougars up 7-0 in Friday’s 35-0 victory over Northwest in the 4A West Reginal Final.
Next: Northwest’s senior linebacker Rha Overstreet (7) tackles QO’s Marquez Cooper (15) during Friday’s playoff game.
Next: Northwest’s senior receiver Andrew Howard (2) makes a catch during Friday’s playoff game.
Photos by Billy Owens for Germantown Pulse