OM Varsity Football Beats Howard on HOCO Night
Preceding the Homecoming showdown, Oakland Mills High School Varsity Football was sitting just at .500, with a record of 3-3, making the homecoming game imperative for the team to get over the hump. Contrastingly, Howard High School Varsity Football was on a 4 game winning streak and had only lost 1 game, being 5-1. Despite their differing records, this game was destined to be competitive off the strength of playstyle and personnel alone.
Howard sports one of the best, if not the best running game(s) in the county, putting opponents on their heels and grinding their way to touchdowns. Additionally, Howard had the leading tackler in the county heading into week six, Alex Dua, who was joined by multiple other leading tacklers such as; Blake Stolarik, Ben Ansley and Connor Hunter. Not to be bested, Oakland Mills is also known for its running game and has leading tacklers of their own in Kharles Ngansi, reigning Defensive Player of the Year, and Xavier Patterson. Not to mention Bliden Elung, who boasted an impressive four interceptions in only six games. This similar clash of talent and playstyle was bound for an entertaining and thrilling game that would go down to the wire.
To begin, Oakland Mills came out scorching in the first quarter with Patterson completing an impressive 84 yard touchdown with a two point conversion to boot. He was ready to put his fingerprints all over this game from the get go. Howard punched back with a touchdown drive of their own and a successful kick, moving the score to 8-7 for the first quarter. Following the end of the first quarter, OM and Howard battled it out with neither gaining solid ground, except for Howard’s 16 yard touchdown in the beginning of the second quarter, thus rewarding them with a 13-8 lead at the end of halftime.
The following kickoff landed in the hot hands of Patterson, who took it for 48 yards, giving the Scorpions a great deal of momentum and energy to start off the second half. After multiple runs, quarterback Cyrus Thomas-Ray threw a touchdown to Elung. Then, Patterson completed the full cycle of this offensive possession by scoring the two point conversion. The rest of the quarter was dominated by OM’s suffocating defense, which gave the Scorps a 16-8 lead at the end of the third quarter. The fourth quarter was much of the same with determined defense locking the Lions down, only allowing them to score a field goal early in the quarter, putting the score at 16-13. The rest of the quarter was an unyielding battle for both teams. This led to Howard trying to decide their own fate near the end of the fourth, and right outside of the red zone. When Howard attempted a touchdown pass, it was PICKED OFF by Elung! An incredible clutch play, which undoubtedly saved the game for the Scorpions and displayed an extensive amount of IQ and skill.
Heading into this game, OM was definitely doubted to come out with the victory. They were at risk of a disappointing loss in their Homecoming game, which would tack on another tough loss to a shaky start to the season. However, in this high stakes game the entire unit came out to play and shut down Howard by making them work for every point they gained, while also making them keep up with their high octane offense. When asked to describe the outcome of the game, Oakland Mills Athletic Director, Troy Stevenson, said the teams “…were evenly matched, but the better team prevailed.” Overall, this game was incredibly important for Oakland Mills and may assist in sparking a much needed win streak for the team.
Photo credit: KBaus on omhsboosters Instagram