Team Maryland struggles offensively in 21-0 loss in Big 33 Classic (VIDEO HERE!)
by Gary Adornato and Derek Toney
Team Maryland took to the turf at Landis Field in Harrisburg, Pa., Monday afternoon looking for a second consecutive win in its Big 33 Classic series with Pennsylvania. Instead, the Maryland squad failed to score a touchdown for a second straight year and absorbed a 21-0 loss to their northern neighbors.
Maryland accumulated just 145 yards of total offense and an anemic 49 yards through the air in an all-star game where big plays are necessary. Starting quarterback Collin Schlee, who led Oakdale to a state title last fall and will play at Kent State next fall, completed just 4-of-8 passes for 27 yards, while Linganore’s Ryan Leyh (Shippensburg University) finished 0-for-8 with his passing attempts.
Archbishop Spalding’s Brevon Easton (Assumption College), who returned a pair kicks for 68 yards, was perhaps the team’s most effective passer as he took the ball on a third quarter reverse and completed his only attempt, a 28-yard toss to Schlee, who snuck up the right sideline. Pennsylvania was also flagged for hitting Schlee out of bounds on the play, making the total gain 43-yards, Maryland’s second biggest play of the afternoon.
The biggest play came in the first quarter on Team Maryland’s second possession of the contest. After the teams had traded punts in the opening minutes of the contest, Maryland handed the ball to Glenelg’s Wande Owens on a first-and-10 snap from its own 33-yard line. Owens, the 2018 VSN Offensive Football Player of the Year after becoming the state’s all-time leading rusher in the fall, burst through a hole on the left side and raced 48-yards before being pushed out of bounds at the Pennsylvania 19.
Maryland inched the ball to the 16 on two short runs, but a false start pushed them back to the 21 and Schlee lost a yard on third down. Instead of attempting what would have been a 38-yard field goal to take an early lead, Maryland went for it on fourth down and a Schlee pass, intended for Wilde Lake’s Osita Smith (West Virginia), was broken up in the back right corner of the end zone.
Pennsylvania then took over at the Maryland 22 and drove 78-yards in eight plays with quarterback Kane Everson of Harrisburg High School (William & Mary) connecting with Baylor University bound wideout Yusuf Terry for a 31-yard score. Terry, who played for Imhotep Institute, caught two balls for 75 yards in the contest and also rushed two times for 24-yards, including a 15-yard touchdown scamper on a reverse, with just 52 seconds left in the first half, giving PA a 14-0 advantage.
The lead was nearly 17-0 at intermission as Tykee Smith (West Virginia), also from Imhotep, came up with an interception of Leyh which he returned 28 yards to the Maryland 30. However, a 37-yard field goal attempt by Bethlehem Catholic’s Anthony DaSilva (Penn State), as the second quarter clock expired, hooked wide left.
In the third quarter, Pennsylvania, after going three-and-out on its first possession, started its second drive at its own 21 with 6 minutes, 19 seconds remaining in the quarter. Everson, who was 5-for-9 for 142 yards in the contest, completed 3-of-4 passes for 82 yards on a seven-play, 79-yard march, capped with a 5-yard touchdown toss to William Gipson (University of Pittsburgh) of Aliquippa High School, giving the Keystone state a 21-0 lead, which proved to be the final score.
Owens, who will play college ball in the Ivy League at Yale University, led Maryland with 55-yards rushing on only two attempts, Schlee ran for 18-yards and McDonogh standout Jabriel Johnson (Morgan State University) managed just 12 yards on five carries.
Maryland only converted six first downs in the game and four of those were via penalties.
Despite the difficult sledding on the offensive side of the ball, Owens said participating in the Big 33 was still a worthwhile experience.
“It was a really good experience,” said Owens. “I had a lot of fun out there. Meeting these guys from around the state, we had a lot of camaraderie even though we have only been together for a short amount of time. I just had a fun experience and really enjoyed myself.”
The poor offensive play overshadowed what was a relatively strong performance by the Maryland’s defense.
Although hampered by Pennsylvania’s speed on the outside and game rules that disallowed zone defenses and required all defensive backs to be within seven yards of the line of scrimmage, the Maryland defense was dominant at times.
On Pennsylvania’s first play of the game, Westminster’s Joe Parry, who will play at Shepherd University in the fall, crashed off the left side and put a huge hit on PA starting quarterback Cade Pribula (University of Delaware), of Central York High, for a sack and an 11-yard loss.
“That first play really set the tone,” said Parry, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 240-pounds. “I got inside on them, made a move and got to the quarterback.”
Parry also echoed Owens’ sentiments about representing Maryland high school football in the game.
“It was real fun,” added Parry. “Originally I didn’t want to do it, but coming up here, it changed my life definitely for the best. It was fun.”
Franklin’s Elijah Solomon, who will play at Villanova University and was named Maryland’s Team MVP in the game, also had a sack, as did Northwest’s DeAndre Jules (Pittsburgh) and Wise’s Khalil Gary (Towson University). In addition, Northwest’ AJ Woods (Pittsburgh) and Glenelg’s Sam Alsheimer (Towson) came up with interceptions for Team Maryland.
“It was a whole different experience, having a bunch of D1 athletes with me, being on my side,” said Solomon who help Franklin win last fall’s 3A state championship. “Just to know that they were there with me and going through the same circumstances I am going through, it lifts me and gets me better. Iron sharpens iron, so that’s how it works.”
“It was a great day overall, just getting to play football again,” said Alsheimer in a post-game interview alongside Owens, his high school teammate. “It was awesome, in the offseason we miss it a lot, both of us, and we got to play our final high school game together. I think we both did our part.”
In the end, Maryland was outgained 322-145, with PA holding a 215-49 edge in the passing game. Pennsylvania also had 16 first downs to Maryland’s six and both teams had two turnovers. Each team was penalized seven times, with Maryland’s flags accounting for 65 yards and PA’s for 93.
This was only the second time Maryland has been shutout in the Big 33. The 1992 team was routed, 38-0. Maryland only scored three points in 2015 as it fell, 20-3, in a game that was halted at halftime because of severe storms that engulfed Hersey Stadium, where the contest was played that year.
Maryland won last year’s game, 9-6, on the strength of three field goals by River Hill’s Cooper McGeehan (Bowie State), but now falls to 4-11 in their series with Pennsylvania and 2-5 since returning to the Big 33 in 2013.
Maryland head coach Scott Ripley of St. Paul’s School, who has served as Team Maryland Team Director since 2013, remains bullish on Maryland high school football and the state’s ability to compete in the Big 33.
“The DMV has a ton of great players,” said Ripley. “We have lots of great players in Maryland. For us to hang, we have half the amount of schools they have in Pennsylvania and for us to do what we did; we hung in there today. The scoreboard didn’t show it, but we had a good football game.”
Ripley added, “All week, the kids were great together. They cared about one another and they stuck together. You saw that today on the field. Every kid that played today was a winner.”
2019 BIG 33 CLASSIC
at Landis Stadium/Harrisburg, PA
PENNSYLVANIA 21, MARYLAND 0
MD 0 0 0 0 — 0
PA 7 7 7 0 — 21
PA – Yusuf Terry 31 pass from Kane Everson (Anthony DaSilva kick)
PA – Terry 14 run (DaSilva kick)
PA – Will Gipson 5 pass from Everson (Kolton McGhee kick)