HARRISBURG, Pa. – While Team Maryland’s defense had its moments in the sun against Team Pennsylvania in the 2019 Big 33 Football Classic, there was little it could do to stop the electrifying combination of quarterback Kane Everson and Baylor-bound wideout Yusuf Terry.
Thanks to the duo’s multiple trips to the Landis Field’s end zone, Pennsylvania shut out Maryland 21-0, reclaiming the interstate all-star game crown.
Maryland had edged Pennsylvania last summer, 9-6, to secure its second victory in the series after going home empty handed in five of its previous six meetings.
“They didn’t rush for much yards,” Maryland head coach Scott Ripley said of Pennsylvania. “Four bad plays determined the game. We held their running game in check. We did a lot of good things, but it’s an all-star game of big plays and we gave up the big plays.”
While the two squads were nearly even on the ground – Maryland tallied 96 rushing yards to Pennsylvania’s 107 – it was a different story through the air. Pennsylvania amassed 215 passing yards compared to just 49 for its southern opponent.
“Up front, the offensive line did a good job of pass blocking, run blocking,” Meade offensive lineman Darius Wilson said. “We really didn’t get the run game established, but we did everything we could up front. All the offensive lineman got a couple of pancakes.”
Westminster defensive lineman Joe Parry nearly single-handedly dispatched Pennsylvania’s offense in its first outing, sacking quarterback Cade Pribula then making the next stop to spearhead a four-and-out.
With the ball back in Maryland hands, Glenelg’s Wande Owens proved why he owns Howard County’s all-time career rushing record by racing 53 yards on his first carry.
However, the Yale commit only got one more attempt and finished with 55 rushing yards.
“It felt really good,” Owens said. “When I came off the field everyone was congratulating me, patting me on the back, saying good job. I really like the camaraderie we had on this team.”
With a second chance to strike first, however, Maryland’s initial burst of light fizzled into nothing. Five downs later, and another false start penalty to boot, Maryland turned the ball over to a team that was about to prove why giving it possession was a terrible idea.
At first, Maryland had its opponents from the north pinned down on every rush. On third and 11, Everson ditched playing on the ground and instead air-mailed a 29-yard pass that breathed new life into Pennsylvania’s drive.
Maryland added kerosene to the fire by picking up personal foul and encroachment penalties that put the ball on the 31-yard line. That was all Pennsylvania needed as Everson’s sailed a sharp pass over the heads of the Maryland defenders and into the end zone to the waiting hands of Terry.
Down 7-0, Maryland’s offense fell silent in response and was forced to punt without picking up a first down. As the first quarter whittled down, though, the visitors were given a gift – a midfield brawl that led to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Pennsylvania that was assessed to start the second quarter.
“There was a lot of fights, a lot of tension – we saw that yesterday, talking trash,” Owens said. “It didn’t take away from my experience because I didn’t go into the fights. I stayed on the sidelines. That stood out to me.”
As for who made good on that free yardage, the answer once again hailed from the halls of Glenelg High School.
Pennsylvania went for it on fourth and 15, but Pribula’s pass was picked off by Gladiator linebacker Sam Alsheimer (Towson Univeristy) for the interception.
Still, even with the free drive, Maryland could only pick up single-digit yards here and there against a Pennsylvania defense that included future Penn State defensive backs in Joey Porter Jr. and Daequan Hardy.
Someone wearing red needed to step up and it turned to to be Archbishop Spalding’s Logic Hudgens. The Buffalo recruit stopped two Pennsylvania runs in Maryland territory that could have resulted in a touchdown.
“I’m always representing Spalding,” Hudgens said. “Me and Brevin Easton.”
But Pennsylvania – specifically Terry – feinted his way around Maryland’s secondary to trot across the goal line, making it 14-0.
Owens’ 53-yard run was Maryland’s last rush over 10 yards through halftime, and its passing attempts were no better. On five tries in the air, Maryland collected just three yards.
For just a moment, it seemed as though the second half would treat Maryland more kindly. After Northwest’s AJ Woods picked off Pribula early in the third quarter, Maryland mounted an eight-play drive that was smoother than any of its previous attempts. Spalding’s Easton kept the drive alive with a 13-yard reception that placed Maryland at the Pennsylvania 30.
“We talked, going into it, about our players stepping up to a different level. At times, they did,” said Ripley, head coach at St. Paul’s.
Ripley noted how Northwest High standout AJ Woods (Pittsburgh) did a good job of defending Terry at times.
“It was four bad plays. As coaches, we’re used to seeing this in the DMV. We have talented kids. It’s not unusual to see this kind of talent up here,” Ripley added.
However, Oakdale’s Collin Schlee, who totaled a team-high 27 yards passing, rushed within inches of converting a first down on fourth and 5.
Unfortunately for Maryland, turning the ball over spelled an even wider gap on the scoreboard.
On third and goal, Everson picked up the five yards he needed to find receiver William Gipson and another touchdown.
For Wilson, the result paled in comparison to the relationships he built with teammates from all across his home state. As play wound down in the fourth quarter, he wove around the bench offering them all chocolate milk.
“Overall, we learned how to keep our composure,” said Wilson, who will play at Bowie State. “It was a little chippy in the first quarter, but eventually we got together and shared a couple laughs on the field and off. Even though things didn’t turn out well, it was a great experience all week.”
Franklin linebacker Elijah Solomon, headed to Villanova, earned the Maryland Player of the Game trophy for his multiple tackles against Pennsylvania’s dangerous offense. For Solomon, the game was about more than representing his home school – it was about bringing Baltimore into a bright spotlight.