Meade’s roster may have been depleted heavily by a lack of returners and by injury, losing Ricardo Coleman and Jonathan Womble – two of just a handful of players with varsity experience – early in the four-week season. It had to “make linebackers,” coach Mike Francis said, filling in the gaps with junior varsity players.
But the first 12 minutes still belonged to the Mustangs.
Quarterback Calvin House (4-for-12, 81 yards, TD) was the architect; his 48-yard bomb to Joshua Cooper ranked highest among the three touchdowns Meade earned in the first quarter to stockpile its 20-point lead. Sophomore running back Darrell Walter ran in the other two.
But as the temperatures dropped, Meade went cold.
Le’Mon led the way, first scoring on a 4-yard run to cap a drive during which he had 23 total yards.
“Our passing game has struggled all year. It’s no secret. [Le’Mon] his ball security has been [good] all season, get the tough yards,” Arundel coach Jack Walsh said.
With that, he put Meade on notice.
Arundel quarterback Cameron Leight (8-for-20, 95 yards, 2 TD) shot nothing but blanks in the first quarter, but that soon changed. He completed a couple passes before, on fourth down, his toss left his hands at the 27-yard line and whistled towards wide receiver Karris Scott. Scott’s grab nearly got intercepted, but when the ball bounced off a Meade defender’s fingertips, Scott caught it and for the second Arundel touchdown to cut the deficit to 20-14.
“We come out flat often, put ourselves behind. That’s been a characteristic of ours, unfortunately. I don’t think we made too many adjustments; I think we settled down and started playing football the way it’s supposed to be played,” Walsh said. “Fatigue [for Meade] set in a little and that played to our advantage.”
All of Meade’s attempted responses ended without much ado, but none of them went as poorly as its second to last possession of the half.
House’s first pass attempt was fumbled and fell into Arundel hands. Leight and the Wildcats converted that unexpected chance into a touchdown, a 4-yard toss into the hands of Yousif Yagoub.
With a good kick, the tides changed. Arundel held a 21-20 lead, and for good measure it capped off the half with a sack.
Francis knows this brief season would be the right experience his mostly first-year varsity players who needed to grow. But on Friday night, they didn’t have it yet.
“We made too many mistakes. We had a couple penalties,” Francis said. “Just too many mistakes.”
Leight understood the concept of what isn’t broken, don’t fix it. He opened up the second half with another 27-yard passing touchdown to Anthony D’Urso, further bolstering the Wildcats lead to 27-20. When Meade drummed up potential, they let it wither away. The closest the Mustangs got was just outside the red zone, and that was the good part. Arundel’s defense created two more turnovers in the fourth quarter alone.
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“They settled down and started playing their style of football,” said Walsh of his defense. “Don’t try to do too much, do your job. … It just kind of happened.”
To make matters worse for the Mustangs, the visitors lost their signal caller when House briefly left the game to an injury midway through the fourth. Without him, yet another Meade drive fizzled out.
And Arundel wasn’t done. Though the Meade defense held the Wildcats back from reaching the end zone again, the 12-yard field goal attempt by Noah Bell whistled through the goal posts and gave Arundel a double-digit advantage, 30-20.
Arundel loses seniors to graduation who barely had the chance to put their Wildcat uniforms on before they had to turn them in again. After the game, hugs were shared and tears were shed on both sidelines.
Le’Mon, one of those seniors, won’t feel the regret of missing more games. These are good memories.