Top-ranked Gilman entered Friday's I-95 Kickoff Classic sporting a national ranking, as well as a yearning to prove it deserved to be mentioned among the nation's elite.
By early in the second quarter, the Greyhounds had erased any doubt.
Facing Oscar Smith of Chesapeake, Va. — a team that had lost just two regular-season games since 2004 — the nine-time Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A conference champions scored the game's first 28 points, putting up 314 yards of offense in the first half alone on their way to a 51-27 win at Morgan State.
“This is a huge win for Gilman, it’s a big win for the MIAA and I think it’s a big win for Maryland,” Gilman coach Biff Poggi said. “I got texts all throughout the day from Maryland coaches, guys in our league and guys around the state. Everybody was rooting for us, I think.”
The Greyhounds (2-0), who last season were blown out at Morgan State by national-power Don Bosco of New Jersey, this time continually won the battle at the line of scrimmage, opening massive holes for quarterback Shane Cockerille and back Cyrus Jones.
Cockerille, a junior transfer from DeMatha, finished with 15 carries for 247 yards rushing and three touchdowns, while Jones, a senior ranked as one of the nation's most prized recruits, had 12 carries for 194 yards and three scores rushing, as well as a touchdown reception.
Gilman, ranked No. 47 nationally in the ESPN High School Powerade Fab 50, now has scored 119 points in its first two games.
The Greyhounds dominated this one from the opening possession. On their third play from scrimmage, Cockerille followed a block through the right side of the line and took off 40 yards down the sideline to put them on top.
After holding the Tigers to negative-1 yards on their first possession, Gilman moved the ball deep into their territory on Jones' 33-yard run. Two plays later, Jones ran untouched through a gaping hole in the right side for a 10-yard score.
“We knew they were a real explosive team, so we couldn’t let them get the first punch,” Jones said. “We just had to hit them first, come out and play our game.”
Down 14-0, Oscar Smith (0-1) had its best chance to get back into the game late in the first quarter, riding the strong arm of Hampton-bound quarterback J.J. Williamson to drive to the Greyhounds' 17. But on second down, Williamson rolled out to his left, couldn't find an open receiver and lost the ball on a big hit by defensive end Melvin Keihn.
Gilman's T.J. Trusty recovered at the 40, ending the threat.
Three plays later, Cockerille hit Jones on a screen pass to the right, and Jones went 14 yards to help increase the lead to 21-0 with 2:10 still left in the opening quarter.
The lead ballooned to 28-0 before Oscar Smith finally scored on a 79-yard run by Virginia Tech recruit J.C. Coleman.
Later, leading 37-14 late in the second quarter, the Greyhounds defense held on third- and fourth-down at the 1.
On the very next play, Cockerille broke through a hole on the left side and took off 84 yards before running out of gas at the 15.
“We just came out ready to play – came out hard,” Cockerille said. “The object of the game was to come out, be physical and run the ball, and that’s what we did.”
I-95 Kickoff Classic
(at Morgan State)
Oscar Smith 0 7 7 13 -- 27
Gilman 21 13 3 14 -- 51
G-Cockerille 40 run (Wey kick)
G-Jones 10 run (Wey kick)
G-Jones 14 pass from Cockerille (Wey kick)
G-Cockerille 10 run (Wey kick)
OS-Coleman 79 run (Davis kick)
G-Jones 37 run (kick failed)
OS-Jones 13 pass from Williamson (Davis kick)
G-Wey 34 FG
G-Jones 21 run (Wey kick)
OS-Coleman 6 run (Davis kick0
G-Cockerille 11 run (Wey kick)
OS-Stallings 2 run (kick failed)