Mervo comes up short against powerful Linganore, 27-25, in Class 3A state semifinals
By Jeff Seidel
Nov 29, 2019 | 11:05 PM
Mervo put up a fight against Linganore, a perennial state football powerhouse, but the Mustangs came up a bit short Friday night.
Despite making a bunch of big plays and even taking the lead in the second half, No. 4 Mervo could not hold on as Linganore outlasted the Mustangs, 27-25, in a Class 3A state semifinal.
Mervo finished the season with a 12-1 record while Linganore (12-1) moves on to next week’s state championship game against Damascus at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
This is the second straight year the Mustangs have lost in the state semifinals. Mervo stayed right with the Lancers in this game but too many mistakes (19 penalties) did in the Mustangs despite a big night from running back Jarrett Gasque (165 yards rushing)
Mervo had a chance in the closing seconds to get in field-goal position but couldn’t come through on a fourth down from the Linganore 36.
“We worked hard,” Mervo receiver Malik Lindsey said. "We did our best. We came out and played with our hearts
Mervo got into Linganore territory on its second possession but quarterback Kelin Kimbrough was stopped two yards short on fourth-and-4 from the Lancer 35.
Linganore then needed just two plays to go 67 yards — all of it coming on two plays and all of it coming from Xander McClure. The second one was an 18-yard run that gave the Lancers their first touchdown. Ethan Thompson kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead with 5:15 left in the first quarter.
The Mustangs answered on their next possession. Kimbrough threw a swing pass to Gasque, who was open on the right. He cut back to the middle of the field and turned it into a 66-yard yard touchdown with 2:47 remaining but the extra point was missed, and Linganore held a 7-6 lead.
Mervo drove deep into Lancer territory on its next series but came up short again on fourth-and-4 from the 15 when Kimbrough got sacked for a 7-yard loss.
The Lancers then marched downfield and scored when Joey Bruscia threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Matt Schiller with 3:08 left in the half for a 14-6 lead.
Mervo bounced back once again and scored when Kimbrough found Malik Lindsey for a 12-yard touchdown in the right corner of the end zone. The Mustangs went for two to try to tie it but failed with 1:24 left, and Linganore took a 14-12 lead into the break.
Mervo started the second half with a bang as Gasque struck again on its first play from scrimmage. Gasque broke free right up the middle and raced untouched for a 59-yard touchdown. The Mustangs missed the two-point conversion again but had their first lead at 18-14.
Nate Mercer picked off Kimbrough deep in Mervo territory on the Mustangs’ next series, and that set up a McClure 16-yard touchdown run. That put the Lancers up 21-18 with 7:37 remaining in the third quarter.
The Mustangs turned it over again on their next possession when Bruscia picked off Kimbrough at the Linganore 4-yard line late in the third quarter. But Mervo made the Lancers punt before Lindsey’s 38-punt return put the Mustangs in business at the Linganore 12.
Tyree Williams then scored on a 12-yard run on a reverse. Kiran Herman kicked the extra point for a 25-21 lead 56 seconds into the fourth quarter. The Lancers came right back, though, when Bruscia found Schiller for 28-yard touchdown. They missed the extra point but held a 27-25 lead with 8:11 to go, and that turned out to be the difference.
“They were fast and strong and big,” Linganore’s Schiller said of the Mustangs. “They were just solid all around.”