Two of the more successful football programs on the Eastern Shore squared off Friday night in the Ravens RISE High School Football Showdown, their first game since suffering major graduation losses from playoff teams.
Even with its offensive personnel almost completely different from that of last year’s 9-2 squad, host Queen Anne’s County used its depth to wear down an equally inexperienced Cambridge-South Dorchester squad, 28-0.
The game matched up two Bayside Conference teams that had not met in five seasons despite perennial playoff participation.
“It was a great honor to play in this game. I hope we get a chance to play in it another time,” Queen Anne’s coach Don Graef said.
All four Lions touchdowns came on the ground, two in each half. Ryan Muller ran for scores of 3 and 17 yards and several other double-digit gains, and Anthony Guiffre and Hassan Biggus added rushing touchdowns from 17 and 10 yards, respectively.
Big plays by the Queen Anne’s defense and penalties held the Vikings offense in check. On three occasions, Cambridge-SD, which went 8-4 last year, drove inside the opposing 20-yard line, only to come away empty-handed each time.
The biggest stop of the night came in the first quarter, when the Vikings drove to the Lions’ 9 on their first possession of the game, But two passes fell incomplete and two runs were thrown for losses, and Queen Anne’s took over on downs at the 10.
After the defensive stand, the Lions drove 90 yards in seven plays, scoring on Muller’s 3-yard run. A 23-yard run by Guiffre and 33-yard pass from quarterback Tyler Bonkowski to Muller moved the ball quickly downfield.
“That hold was, without doubt, the biggest defensive series for us. Cambridge scores there, and we’re behind, and it could have been a different game,” said Graef, in his 23rd year as Queen Anne’s coach.
Garrett Murray’s interception later in the half halted another Cambridge-SD drive across midfield and led to Guiffre’s punishing 17-yard touchdown run with four seconds left. A 36-yard carry by Muller and another double-digit gain by Donovan Cruz set up the Lions’ score.
With the Queen Anne’s defensive line and linebackers pressuring quarterback Tyler Harding, the Vikings’ passing game was mostly punchless throughout the game, especially in the second half.
Harding completed passes of 30 and 39 yards in the first half, but his longest in the second was for 9 yards. Overall, he completed 11 of 27 passes for 117 yards and two interceptions.
“I think we had more depth than they did, and it showed in the second half, when we were able to run fresh backs in there,” Graef said. “I think we wore them down.”
Harding was hurried into his second interception of the game in the second half, and Kole Gunther returned it deep into Cambridge-SD territory to set up Muller’s second touchdown.
Biggus earlier had scored on a 10-yard run to cap a 59-yard drive.
“It was a great honor for us to be picked to be in this game,” Cambridge-SD coach Jake Coleman said. “I am a big Ravens fan and I love the Ravens and I think Ray Lewis is the greatest defensive football player who ever lived. We appreciate the Ravens giving us their support.”
Ian McCrory converted two extra points for Queen Anne’s, and Biggus added a 2-point conversion.