After a shaky first half, Long Reach football kept its cool Friday night at Mt. Hebron to beat the Vikings, 18-6, and remain undefeated.
The Lightning made a few big plays on offense and shut down the Vikings’ rushing attack in the second half to earn the victory. The 3-0 start is the first for Long Reach since 2017 and only the team’s third in the past 15 years.
“I’m really happy with our kids,” Long Reach coach Jamie Willis said. “Our kids play really hard all the time. Sometimes, you don’t play your best. It’s about how you deal with it afterwards. We kept playing hard.”
Long Reach running back Julius Saunders ran for a 19-yard touchdown in the second quarter to kick off the game’s scoring. After Mt. Hebron (2-1) tied the game at 6 right before halftime with a rushing touchdown from Drew Peperone, the Lightning retook the lead in the third quarter with a 1-yard plunge from running back Keegan Costa.
Long Reach increased its lead to 18-6 early in the fourth quarter when quarterback Alexander Coffey found wideout Daniel Ribalta in the end zone for a 23-yard score.
The contest was picked by Howard County fans to be featured as one of this season’s Ravens RISE High School Football Showdowns. Ravens safety Chuck Clark and mascot Poe were in attendance. The athletic department for both schools also received a $1,500 donation for participating in the Showdown.
Accompanying the Ravens RISE aura was a packed crowd that resulted in a couple hundred late-arriving fans forced to stand and watch from the track.
“It was really cool,” said Saunders. “It being the Ravens RISE game, we were a little riled up and made some mistakes. Once we settled down, we played our game.”
The sloppy first half between the two unbeaten squads started with five straight punts. Neither offense could sustain a drive because of penalties. Through two drives, there were more flags than plays.
After a Vikings punt from deep in their own territory midway through the second quarter, Long Reach took over on Hebron’s 41 and needed just four plays to score. Saunders cut toward the sideline and sped to the end zone for the 19-yard touchdown.
Saunders totaled 92 yards on 14 carries. Through three games, the senior has scored six of his team’s 11 touchdowns this season.
“He’s a dude for us, and he works his [butt] off,” Willis said about his star running back. “He’s been on varsity for four years, and he continues to get better. He’s one of the top kids in the state of Maryland.”
Hebron responded on its next drive, though, as the Vikings pulled a trick out of their playbook to get into the red zone. Running back Aidan Hauf took a pitch in the Vikings’ Wing-T offense, causing the Lightning’s defensive backs to creep forward, and he launched a deep pass to Dennis Scott for a 37-yard gain that put the ball inside the 10. Two plays later, Drew Peperone scored from five yards out.
Despite having less than a minute remaining when it took over on its own 33, Long Reach nearly scored to end the half. A short completion from Coffey to Matthew Brown in the flat turned into a 51-yard play after the sophomore wideout sped down the sideline past three Hebron defenders.
With eight seconds left and the Lightning on the Vikings’ 12-yard line, Willis decided to go for the end zone on the next two plays. Scott broke up the first pass and was there to force the second one to fall incomplete as well.
In addition to the long reception and pass breakups, Scott also had an interception to open the second half and returned a kickoff across midfield.
“He’s come a long way,” Mt. Hebron coach Shawn Frederick said about Scott. “I love that kid. He had an opportunity last year to step up, and he’s never let go of that spot. He’s been playing lights out.”
The Lightning mounted an 11-play, 57-yard drive in the third quarter to take the lead. Saunders totaled 29 yards on the drive, but a tweaked ankle kept him off the field for most of the rest of the game. Costa, Long Reach’s backup tailback, performed well in relief and scored from the 1-yard line for the game-winning score.
On the Lightning’s next possession, Coffey found Ribalta on a 34-yard deep pass on third-and-long before their touchdown connection. Coffey, a lefty, rolled out to his left on the touchdown pass and found Ribalta open in the end zone.
The senior signal caller completed his last seven throws, totaling 151 yards on 9-for-14 passing.
“He’s grown tremendously over the past few years,” Willis said about Coffey. “What I think has helped him was having an offseason and having 7-on-7s. Now, he understands what we’re trying to do with him and what our offense is. He’s making good decisions and he’s doing a good job managing our team.”
Long Reach’s defense forced another three-and-out on Mt. Hebron’s next drive. The Vikings didn’t get a first down in the second half, totaling two yards across three possessions. Hebron’s last drive ended in an interception, as Long Reach junior defensive back Abraham Kamara caught a deflected pass to seal the victory.
Turnovers have been key to Long Reach’s 3-0 start. In the Lightning’s Week 1 upset of River Hill, Willis’ squad forced five turnovers, including multiple in the red zone.
“In the past we haven’t gotten too many turnovers, but this year we’ve been able to get them,” he said. “I think it’s because of how hard our guys play. When you’re flying around, sometimes the ball just pops to you.”
While the season is still young, Saunders and the rest of the Lightning are eager to continue their hot start. Five months ago, Long Reach wrapped up a 1-4 spring season, including a season-ending loss to Centennial. Now, the Lightning are tied for first in the county with Atholton and Oakland Mills.
“Throughout the summer, we kept a good mindset,” Saunders said. “We remembered those losses from the spring, and we kept the mindset to get better day by day.”
Both teams are back in action next Friday. Long Reach plays at Howard (2-1), while Mt. Hebron travels to River Hill (2-1).
Long Reach 18, Mt. Hebron 6
LR — 0 6 6 6 — 18
MH — 0 6 0 0 — 6
LR: Julius Saunders 19-yard run, kick no good [6-0]
MH: Drew Peperone 5-yard run, kick no good [6-6]
LR: Keegan Costa 1-yard run, kick no good [12-6]
LR: Daniel Ribalta 23-yard pass from Alexander Coffey, run fails [18-6]
OTHER FOOTBALL SCORES:
Howard 13, Reservoir 12 (OT)
The Lions (2-1) eked out an overtime win against the host Gators (0-3). Howard opened the game’s scoring with a 10-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tyler Sabatini to Brady Cheung. Reservoir tied the game at 6-6 in the third quarter to send the contest to overtime. The Gators then scored to open the first overtime period but missed the point after attempt. Howard then tied the game with a touchdown pass from Sabatini to Zamir Herald. Mitchell Dickson then walked off the game by making the extra point.
Ho — 0 6 0 0 7 — 13
Re — 0 0 6 0 6 — 12
Oakland Mills 42, Hammond 20
The Scorpions outscored the Golden Bears 28-7 in the second half to earn the convincing win. John Tatum, Trevin McHargh and Kanye Holland all accounted for two scores in the victory. Oakland Mills (3-0) is tied for first in Howard County with Atholton and Long Reach. The 3-0 start is the first for Oakland Mills since 2015.
For Hammond (1-2), Nathaniel Lamb led the way with 88 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries.
Ha — 7 6 7 0 — 20
OM — 6 8 14 14 — 42
Ha: Nathaniel Lamb 1-yard run, Daniel Ordonio kick [7-0]
OM: John Tatum 1-yard run, conversion failed [7-6]
OM: Kylik Perry 10-yard pass from Kanye Holland, Tatum run [14-7]
Ha: Lamb 5-yard run, kick no good [14-13]
OM: Trevin McHargh 43-yard run, Tatum run [22-13]
OM: Tatum 2-yard run, conversion failed [28-13]
Ha: Lamb 7-yard run, Ordonio kick [28-20]
OM: Holland 33-yard run, Blake Nguyen kick [35-20]
OM: McHargh 5-yard run, Nguyen kick [42-20]
Atholton 57, Centennial 12
The Raiders (3-0) scored 28 points in the third quarter to earn the blowout victory over the Eagles (1-2). The 3-0 start is the first for Atholton since 2012. Running back Dillan Watkins continued his impressive start to the season with 122 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries. Quarterbacks Harrison Feldman and Miles Scott combined for 125 yards and two touchdowns on 7-of-12 passing. Jerome Colbert and Kevin Smitson were on the receiving end of those touchdown passes.
A — 7 14 28 8 — 57
C — 6 6 0 0 — 12
Glenelg 47, Wilde Lake 7
Bisi Owens accounted for five touchdowns to lead the Gladiators to the bounce back win at Wilde Lake. Owens ran for three touchdowns from 9, 10 and 25 yards out, threw for a 3-yard score and intercepted a pass and returned it 25 yards for a score. The senior signal caller ran for 142 yards on 20 carries and added 65 yards through the air. The blowout win came a week after Glenelg lost at home against Atholton.
G — 0 20 20 7 — 47
WL — 0 7 0 0 — 7
G: Bisi Owens 25-yard run, Michael Fernandes Kick [7-0]
G: Ethan Sotka 22-yard run, Fernandes kick [14-0]
WL: Conlan Pierre 53-yard pass from Kofi Boampong, kick good [14-7]
G: Owens 9-yard run, kick no good [20-7]
G: Owens 10-yard run, Fernandes kick [27-7]
G: Owens 25-yard interception return, Fernandes kick [34-7]
G: John Masterman 3-yard pass from Owens, conversion failed [40-7]
G: Nick Dalton 5-yard run, Fernandes kick [47-7]
River Hill 27, Marriotts Ridge 7
Running back Ethan Burnett ran for 198 yards and three touchdown on 23 carries to lead the Hawks to the blowout win. River Hill carried the ball 48 times for 480 yards (7.9 per carry) in the win. The Hawks’ defense forced two turnovers and totaled six tackles for loss.
RH — 0 14 6 7 — 27
MR — 0 0 0 7 — 7
RH: Ethan Burnett 9-yard run, Poojan Patel kick [7-0]
RH: Burnett 8-yard run, Patel Kick [14-0]
RH: Burnett 24-yard run, kick no good [20-0]
RH: Bergen Remick 2-yard run, Vishaal Gudapati kick [27-0]
MR: Vinny Edison 5-yard run, kick good [27-7]
Long Reach def. Oakland Mills — 3-2 [26-24, 21-25, 22-25, 25-21, 15-11]
In one of the most thrilling volleyball contests of the season, the visiting Lightning won the final two sets to defeat the Scorpions. The contest was the first match in Howard County to go five sets this fall. All five sets were decided by four or fewer points.
Long Reach stats: Isabella Mora (6 aces, 11 kills, 19 digs), Hayley Norton (2 aces, 1 kill, 26 assists, 15 digs), Mia Rubio (3 aces, 2 assists, 22 digs), Toni Shaw (1 ace, 2 kills, 4 blocks, 2 digs), Kailey Young (1 ace, 11 kills, 1 block, 22 digs).
Oakland Mills stats: Jasmine Armoo (1 kill, 3 blocks, 2 digs), Kathryn Rogan (5 aces, 5 digs, 2 kills, 33 assists), Micaela Murray (19 digs, 3 kills), Shanai Smith (14 digs, 3 kills), Zhenzhu Nelson (5 aces, 21 kills, 27 digs), Paige McPhillips (3 kill, 3 blocks).
Records: LR 1-2; OM 0-4.
Howard def. Hammond — 3-0 [25-17, 25-10, 25-7]
The host Lions continued their undefeated season with the straight-set sweep victory. The Lions were led by junior Kelenna Onukwugha’s 12 kills and junio Corinne Chau’s six kills and three aces. Middles Tyller Williams and Sanaya Srivastava led the team with three blocks each.
Howard stats: Corinne Chau (3 aces, 6 kills), Kelenna Onukwugha (12 kills), Tyller Williams ( 4 kills, 3 blocks), Ayanna Pharoah (23 assists, 2 kills), Briana May (16 digs)
Records: Ho 3-0; Ha 0-4.
Reservoir def. Mt. Hebron — 3-0 [25-19, 25-23, 25-16]
The Gators bounced back from their loss to Howard on Monday with the win over the visiting Vikings. Despite ending in a sweep, the match was tight throughout.
Reservoir stats: N/A.
Mt. Hebron stats: Emerson Rose (13 assists, 5 digs, 1 ace), Ava Bradley (9 kills, 6 digs), Caroline Zheng (11 digs), Logan Scarbath (8 assists, 4 digs), Rachel Swigart (6 kills), Jillian Shoultz (3 kills, 4 blocks).
Records: Re 3-1; MH 1-2.
River Hill def. Atholton — 3-0 [25-12, 26-24, 25-15]
The Hawks improved to 4-0 with the sweep over the visiting Raiders.
River Hill stats: Shreeni Chikyala (8 kills, 2 blocks, 2 aces, 3 digs), Abby Chicorelli (5 kills), Christina Lui (6 kills), Grace Leska (5 kills), Shannon Hill (4 kills, 3 digs), Molly Xu (14 assists, 4 digs, 3 aces), Sungeen Ghuman (13 assists, 2 aces).
Records: RH 4-0; A 1-3.
Centennial def. Wilde Lake — 3-0
Chapelgate def. Concordia Prep — 3-0 [25-23, 25-11, 25-17]
Chapelgate stats: Selah Holland (2 aces, 8 assists), Isabelle Florent (4 kills, 2 digs, 1 block), Amanda Morse (1 ace, 5 assists, 5 digs), Maddie James (1 ace, 10 kills, 2 digs), Grace Salveron (1 ace, 5 assists, 1 dig), Aniya Jones (1 ace, 5 kills, 6 digs), Chase Grant (3 kills, 1 block, 1 dig), Samara Decker (1 kill).
Marriotts Ridge 3, Glenelg 2 (OT)
Mt. Hebron 3, Howard 1
The Vikings earned their first county win of the season against the host Lions. Paige Leitzel accounted for all three of Hebron’s goals, scoring two and assisting one.
Goals: MH — Paige Leitzel 2, Claudia Dittomasso; Ho — Alyssa Gorny.
Assists: MH — Leitzel; Ho — Poppy Swallow.
Saves: MH — Kylie Ritter 5; Ho — Allayna Martone 12.
Halftime: 2-0, MH.
Records: MH 1-3, 3-3; Ho 0-4.
Atholton 8, Hammond 0
Asha Derstine scored five goals and Bella Konrad registered seven assists in the Raiders’ home victory.
Goals: A — Asha Derstine 5, Ashlyn Donaldson 2, Lauren Donaldson.
Assists: A — Bella Konrad 7, Kendall Dean.
Records: A 4-0; Ha 3-2.
River Hill 4, Centennial 0
Maddie Vasilios scored a hat trick to lead the host Hawks. River Hill, which won the county title this past spring, plays fellow top teams Marriotts Ridge and Glenelg next week.
Goals: RH — Maddie Vasilios 3, Laura Mason.
Assists: RH — Puja Nanjappa.
Saves: RH — Jocelyn Baker 1; C — Jimon Leary 7.
Halftime 2-0, RH.
Records: RH 4-0, 5-1; C 1-3.
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