Bill Waibel isn't always easy to please, but the first thing the Joppatowne coach did after last night's game with Havre de Grace was tell his Mariners to give themselves a round of applause.
Joppatowne played the kind of low-mistake, big-play game that Waibel likes. Kevin Harris returned an interception for a 22-yard touchdown, and Ben Tucker added a 4-yard scoring run to help the host Mariners pull out a 16-6 victory over Havre de Grace in an Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference game.
The Mariners (1-1, 1-0) committed five costly turnovers in last week's 32-17 loss at North Carroll. But they took care of the ball in this game, turning it over only once in the game-long steady rain, controlling the ball for long stretches and getting called for just four penalties.
"I was just very pleased with our kids and the way they bounced back [after the loss]," Waibel said. "We did the things we always preach, like limiting turnovers and reducing penalties."
The rain didn't slow the run-oriented Joppatowne offense, as the Mariners finished with 332 yards - all on the ground. Quarterback C.J. Townes led the way with 128 yards, while Tavon Henley (85 yards) and Marquis Horsey (61) also pitched in.
Harris' play was the game's big one, as the senior cornerback picked off Darris Sconion's screen pass and ran untouched for the score. Townes then ran for the two-point conversion and an 8-0 lead with 10:35 left in the first half.
"We knew the screen was coming at some point," Harris said. "I scooted up, jumped the route and saw daylight."
The Mariners took advantage of a short second-half kickoff that let them begin at their own 49-yard line. Eight plays later, Tucker ran in for the 4-yard score. He then ran for the two-point conversion and a 16-0 lead.
Havre de Grace (0-2, 0-2) followed with its best drive, which ended with Hakeem Hines (110 yards total) going for an 11-yard touchdown run with 5:39 left in the quarter. The Warriors came up short on the two-point try.
Havre de Grace's offense never got going. Coach Johnny Brooks' team stayed on the ground most of the night, even though they've been known as a passing team. Brooks put in junior Lloyd Williams at quarterback in the second quarter, and the junior made some good plays, but the Warriors couldn't move the ball consistently.
Jake McGinnis, Jules Forney and Josh Albowicz helped the Joppatowne defense control the game and limit Havre de Grace to 108 yards total offense.
"They controlled the line of scrimmage on us," Brooks said. "The efforts were there, but [my team] is young now."