Henry A. Wise wins Class 4A title, 12-7, over Quince Orchard
Pumas battle to defeat Cougars in defensive struggle for state championship
Henry A. Wise tight end Micah Till, right, makes a leaping catch behind Quince Orchard defensive back Malcolm Brown, left, for the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Class 4A state championship at M&T Bank Stadium. (Toni L. Sandys / Washington Post / November 30, 2012)
Black did not attempt a pass in the first half as the Pumas (13-0) from Upper Marlboro stuck to their run-heavy offensive script, but the junior took over at just the right time in a game controlled by two dominant defenses. After Quince Orchard pushed a 29-yard field-goal attempt wide right with just under 6 minutes remaining, Black led Wise on a 10-play, 80-yard drive. Black engineered the drive with a series of completions and runs, and he surprised the Cougars with a fade pass to the 6-foot-5, 250-pound Till in the right corner of the end zone.
Quince Orchard (12-2) drove down to the Wise 25-yard line on a frantic final drive, but after an unsportmanlike conduct penalty backed them up, Wise junior Joseph Shelton intercepted Matt Choi at the goal line with 30 seconds remaining.
Wise struck first on running back Chase Powell's first run of the game, which went for 24 yards to the Quince Orchard 19-yard line. The senior scored four plays later on a physical 4-yard run that set the tone for the Pumas' offense.
Powell ripped off a 53-yard run early in the second quarter to pin the Cougars deep in their own zone once again, but Quince Orchard escaped the threat when Powell fumbled into the end zone on third and goal and the Cougars recovered for a touchback.
Quince Orchard, which was stifled by the interior of Wise's defensive line on its first three possessions, responded with a 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive, aided by a late hit penalty and a 41-yard run by Tyrell Williams. Johnson capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to give the Cougars a 7-6 lead with just over 1 minute remaining in the first half.
Williams, who finished with 182 yards on 18 carries, broke a 55-yard run on Quince Orchard's first drive of the second half, but the Cougars came away empty-handed after Choi was stuffed on a fourth-and-3 call from the Wise 10-yard line.
Wise recovered a Quince Orchard fumble at its own 36-yard line at the end of the third quarter, but Quince Orchard's defense held after Black's pass on fourth down fell incomplete near the 30-yard line. Wise tried to open up its passing game early in the fourth quarter, but Quince Orchard's pressure limited Black's effectiveness.
The Cougars had a chance to make it a two-score game in the middle of the fourth quarter, but the missed field goal gave Wise, and Black (6-for-12, 104 yards), new life.
It was the second consecutive loss for Quince Orchard in the 4A title game — the Cougars fell, 36-35, to Old Mill in overtime last December. Wise, which suffered two close defeats in its two previous trips to the final in 2009 and 2010, captured its first championship in the school's seventh year of existence.