Chopticon football loses to Patuxent


Chopticon football loses to Patuxent

With his team nursing a narrow 19 18 lead and starting running back Chris Long injured and out of the game, Patuxent’s Tyler Gross did not need anybody telling him what he needed to do.

“I just had to step up as a senior and do my job and let everyone else do their job and try to win the game,” he said.

Gross walked the walk, as well, accounting for 76 of the Panthers’ 77 yards on their final scoring drive of Friday night’s homecoming game with the Chopticon Braves. He capped the drive with a 16 yard touchdown run, which increased the Patuxent lead to 26 18 with Andrew Kalinoski’s successful extra point. The hosts later added a safety to leave the final winning margin at 28 18 in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference nondivision contest.

“We got everything straight at halftime,” said Gross, who carried the ball six times for 49 yards and had one reception for 27 yards on the series. “We came back and just punched them in the mouth, did what we had to do to get the [win].”

Patuxent (7 1 overall) opened the game quickly to take a 13 0 lead by the midpoint of the second quarter. Reese Crounse scored on a 3 yard run with 7 minutes 17 seconds left in the first quarter to open the scoring, while Crounse connected with Vonnie Watkins on a 15 yard touchdown pass with 7:07 left in the second quarter. But Chopticon started to take over the momentum from there.

The Braves (4 4) answered Patuxent’s second score with a 77 yard drive of their own. Quarterback Erik Reese and Brandon Blackwell teamed up on a 32 yard passing play to get the possession started, while Blackwell later capped the drive with a 10 yard touchdown run. A failed two point try left the Braves’ deficit at 13 6.

On Chopticon’s next possession, it faced a fourth own and 1 from its own 18 yard line, but Aaron Curtis ran for 51 yards on a fake punt to not only keep Patuxent from getting the ball back at the tail end of the first half, but provide the Braves with another scoring opportunity.

The visitors made good on that opportunity, as Josh Rackey came down with a Reese Hail Mary pass in the end zone on the last play of the half. The Braves missed the point after to go to the half down 13 12.

Chopticon maintained the momentum through the third quarter and took the lead when Blackwell capped a 58 yard touchdown drive with a 17 yard jaunt to the end zone. The Braves failed to convert a two point conversion, but had taken their first lead, 18 13, with 1:32 to play in the third quarter.

Having surrendered 18 straight points, Patuxent responded with a 56 yard scoring drive of its own. But after driving to the Chopticon 5, the Panthers failed to cross the goal line on three straight runs, leaving the team facing a fourth and goal from the 3. Patuxent went for the touchdown on fourth down and came away with six points when Crounse found Mikey Donaldson for the score.

The Panthers’ defense then forced a three and out and Gross took over on the subsequent Patuxent possession. The hosts added a safety when a Chopticon screen pass was ruled a lateral and bounced free into the end zone where the Braves’ Kharlum Mitchell dove on it, giving the Panthers’ their final two points of the night.

“I thought they played real resilient,” Patuxent head coach Steve Crounse said of his team’s effort. “We jumped out and let them get back in it, gave up that Hail Mary at the end of the half. That’s who Chopticon always is. They’re never going to quit. [Chopticon head coach Tony Lisanti's] kids are never going to quit, so cheap jerseys you have to keep playing.

“Tyler Gross did a great job and the offensive line did a great job. Mikey Donaldson played fullback tonight and we played old school Patuxent power football and controlled the line of scrimmage in the second half and did a good job. Reese did a good job managing the offense and made plays when he had to and threw two big touchdown passes. All in all, it was a great team effort, real resilient effort and those are the kinds of things we need moving forward. We need as many guys as we have to step up. That’s what happened tonight.”

While Lisanti thought his team had an improved effort from its loss at Northern the previous week, he was disappointed the team was not able to finish in a game the team was in position to win.

“We have fourth down and all we needed to do was make a play,” he said. “Then I lost my running back [Blackwell to a sprained ankle] and he was playing pretty darn well. This is his time. This is where he wears defenses down. That hurts us, but still, we didn’t execute with the game on the line. You need to make plays to win. They made one or two more than we did.”

“I’d like to see us be able to finish,” Lisanti said. “We’ve played well. We’ve been in every game, every single game. We could be 8 0. Two missed field goals cost us two big games and last week we were in that game until the end and this week we were in this game to the end. We just have not finished.”

“Stone’s a very well coached team and up front they’re very good,” Steve Crounse said. “They’re very disciplined on defense and run the option and Wing T very well. They have speed all over the field. We’re going to have to be very disciplined on defense. They’re not a defense that gives up too many scores, and definitely not any cheap ones, so we’re going to have to execute and play good football to win.”.