What a difference a year makes?
One season after finishing 0-10, the Owings Mills football team improved to 4-2 with a 36-0 whitewash of Western Tech (2-4) at the Community College of Baltimore County, Catonsville on Friday night.
Sophomore Cameron Hughes rushed for 72 yards on nine carries and scored two touchdowns and senior quarterback Khalik Diggs ran for 57 yards and a touchdown.
John Lemon also rushed for a score and James Jones capped the scoring with a sack and fumble return.
Owings Mills seized control of the game from the outset when the Eagles recovered Ibrahim Ahamed’s onside kick on the opening kickoff.
On the third play of the next series, Diggs connected with Roger Abada on a 40-yard pass. Three plays later, Hughes scored from three yards out.
Hughes ran for the conversion and the lead was 8-0 with 8:43 left in the quarter.
After the Wolverines went three and out, Jordan Jeter returned a punt 30 yards.
Six plays later, Hughes scored again from three yards and Lemon ran for the conversion and the lead was 16-0.
The offense let the defense take over and they responded on Western Tech’s next series when Hughes and Raiheem Olalekan stopped Joshua Evans for no gain on fourth and four from the Owings Mills 34.
The Wolves were driving again late in the second quarter after a tough two-yard run by Ike Kalu on fourth and one kept a drive alive.
But, on second and four from the Owings Mills 37, Zion Antoine was dropped for a one-yard loss by Sherrod Kearney and on fourth and five, Tony Joshua was tackled for a 2-yard loss by Diondre Space and Olalekan.
The defensive stops lit a spark in senior quarterback Diggs.
On the third play of the next series, he scrambled 34 yards to the Western Tech 11.
“I took what I could get,” said the 6-foot, 220-pound signal-caller. “My line blocked for me and I just made one cut and it was daylight.”
On fourth and four, Diggs gained five yards to the one, but two illegal procedure penalties backed them up to the 11.
After two incomplete passes, the Wolverines blitzed, but Diggs found his way through the rush and scampered 11 yards for a touchdown and 22-0 lead with 52 seconds left in the half.
“I found the right hole and my line made that block and I just made one cut and took it right in,” Diggs said.
Gaining positive yards out of broken plays is something Owings Mills coach Travis Hall has seen all season.
“He’s definitely a big difference-maker,” Hall said. “With an athlete, we tell him, once he makes his first or second read, if it’s not there, then get out of there and go make a play and especially against them, they were in man and their backs were turned and no one could see him.”
After Lemon’s 8-yard touchdown run in the third quarter made it 30-0, nobody in the Western Tech backfield saw Jones coming on a pass rush when he wrapped up freshman quarterback Ahmed Oubaid, spun around with the ball, and raced 27 yards for the final score of the game.
Despite strong running in the waning moments by Joshua, his 9-yard run on fourth and goal from the 11 came up two yards short of a touchdown and the shutout was preserved.
“Any time you get a shutout is great against anybody,” said Hall, who praised defenders Lemon, Hughes and Kavon Cunningham. “They are hard to come by.”
While the Eagles found wins hard to come by last year, the keys to the four victories this year began before the season began.
“We’ve been able to move the ball pretty much against all our opponents because our big guys actually bought in and showed up in the off-season,” Hall said. “You can have the greatest skills in the world, but if you aren’t good in the trenches, it doesn’t matter.”
The Eagles other wins this season came against Eastern Tech, 14-12, Chesapeake, 2-0 (forfeit) and Patapsco, 26-6.
They will host Randallstown on homecoming at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 12 and Diggs is confident his team has turned the corner.
“I like my offense. We came from nothing, 0-10, so I think we just worked hard over the summer and we are just pushing,” said the third-year varsity player. “It’s a whole different ballgame, new players, new coaches.”