WALDORF -- Randallstown knew the key to beating Thomas Stone was to stop running back Marcus Whalen, and it hoped to accomplish that feat with players such as second-team All-Metro linebackers Quan Mitchell and Mykle Bouie.
That duo was able to slow down the 6-foot, 205-pound back at times -- Mitchell had a sack, and they both tackled him for losses on occasion -- but in the end, Whalen, backfield mate Mike Finamore (74 yards) and a solid offensive line were too much for the No. 2 Rams.
Whalen, who has received 10 full scholarship offers, rushed for 151 yards on 25 carries and both touchdowns as the Cougars withstood a valiant comeback by the Rams in a 16-7 Class 3A state semifinal victory.
Thomas Stone (12-0), the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference champ, now awaits 10-time champion Seneca Valley, a 48-7 winner over Damascus, in next weekend's state title game at the University of Maryland's Byrd Stadium.
Whalen, who has narrowed his 10 scholarship offers to Auburn, N.C. State and Brigham Young, scored the game's last touchdown, from 20 yards with 3: 07 to play. He now has 1,839 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Randallstown (9-3) had one last chance to score, but on its final drive, with 2: 35 to play, quarterback Archie Trader was intercepted by Mark Johnson. And after a 26-yard run by Whalen to the Rams' 15, Thomas Stone ran out the clock.
"We knew they were a good team, strong up front, and we wanted to contain their backs and their quarterback [Archie Trader], who is a good scrambler," Whalen said. "We've been a second-half team all year, after being down sometimes in the first half."
Down 9-0 in the first quarter after Whalen's 16-yard scoring run and a safety by Steve Peaper against Trader, the game had the makings of a blowout for the home team. But the Rams' defense made a big stop, forcing the Cougars to punt, and took over at their own 46 with 1: 26 left in the half.
Randallstown's subsequent four-play scoring drive, capped by a 1-yard run by Davon Johnson and Jay Woodson's extra point with 37 seconds left in the half, was aided by a pass interference call and Mitchell's 8-yard reception to the Thomas Stone 1.
The Cougars appeared to be shaken, as Whalen fumbled on the first play of the next possession. It was recovered by Will Epps. The Rams were unable to cash in, however, but had momentum heading into the second half.
However, any momentum the Rams had was stolen when Gamal Sheard intercepted Trader's pass at the 1 -- after covering 51 yards in seven plays. The Cougars then drove 91 yards in 12 plays to the Randallstown 11 before the drive stalled.
Randallstown had overcome halftime deficits to defeat Eastern Tech and Dundalk, respectively, in earlier league games, and its defense, including Epps and James Foreman (one sack, one batted pass), turned up the pressure.
In the end, however, it wasn't to be for Randallstown, which lost in last year's 2A state semifinal to eventual runner-up Fort Hill.
Randallstown had faced marquee players before. It shut down Parkville's Mike Hall, the state's top rusher, in a 52-12 rout, and collared Vince Fuller of Woodlawn in a 42-12 victory one week after Fuller had amassed nearly 200 yards of offense against Baltimore County 3A-4A champ Milford Mill.
"We drove down the field on them, but they played good defense," said Mitchell. "He [Whalen] was running hard, he's a good back. He got them the yards when they needed them."
Pub Date: 11/20/99