Westminster gets past No. 18 Marriotts Ridge for 3A state football quarterfinal spot; Mattingly and Stranko record TDs
by Donald Daniels
There were plenty of moments where Westminster High football’s season could have been derailed Friday evening. But the 15th-ranked Owls were able to do just enough against No. 18 Marriotts Ridge to escape with a 16-7 victory in a Class 3A East Region second round match at Ruby Field in Carroll County.
Erick Stranko and Matt Mattingly each had rushing scores to help advance the Owls (9-2 overall) to the 3A state quarterfinals. Westminster will play at No. 5 Mervo next Friday evening for a spot in the state semifinals.
The Owls lost three lost fumbles Friday. Luckily, their defense and special teams made plays when needed.
“We did everything we could to give it away, but the nice thing was that when we really needed it we were able to come together,” said Westminster coach Chris Bassler.
“We never put our heads down and we have great senior leadership,” said Stranko. “We had some early mistakes but we had a big in the fourth quarter and we carried it from there.”
The first Westminster score came at the start of the second quarter when ace senior kicker Evan Warren ended a 54-yard drive with a 24-yard field goal. Marriotts Ridge (8-3) went three-and-out on the ensuing drive, but Warren’s 49-yard attempt fell short.
With under five minutes left in the second quarter Mattingly finished off a seven play, 46-yard drive with a 9-yard run up the middle to make it, 10-0.
“All year long we talked about winning time and in some key moments we did that,” said Bassler.
The Owls appeared poise to put game out of reach, getting possession at the Mustangs’ 19 after Jack Conrad’s blocked punt. Westminster fumbled, and Mustang junior Jack Baxter recovered the ball.
Things started to click for the Mustangs offensively in the third quarter. The Howard County school went 80 yards in 15 plays in seven minutes, capped with senior Ryan Reeling’s lunge into the end zone from two yards.
Momentum remained with the Mustangs, recovering a muffed Westminster punt at the Owls’ 35 at the end of the third quarter. Marriotts Ridge’s Evan Bury 39-yard field attempt fell short of the uprights.
Stranko put the game away with 29-yard touchdown jaunt with just over eight minutes remaining the game.
“I have to all the credit to the offensive line,” said Stranko. “They gave me a big hole and I just right through it.”
The Owls, who won the Carroll County Athletic League title will travel to Baltimore for a match with Baltimore City Division I champ Mervo, which routed Towson, 35-0, in a North Region second round contest at Modell Field.
“All season we have talked about short-term goal, long term goal,” said Bassler. “Our short term goal is to win next week and our long term goal is to win the state championship. And this time of year our goals are getting closer together.”
After completing its best season in school history, Marriotts Ridge coach Marcus Lewis lauded his team.
“We made a lot of firsts with this group, no one expected a lot out of us,” said Lewis. “We had the best record in school history, we beat River Hill for the first time, they did a lot of great things. While it hurts right now, they will wake up tomorrow and realize what a great year we had.”
CLASS 3A EAST REGION SECOND ROUND
No. 15 Westminster 16, No. 18 Marriotts Ridge 7
Marriotts Ridge 0 0 7 0 – 7
Westminster 0 10 0 6 – 16
Westminster – Evan Warren 24 field goal
Westminster – Matt Mattingly 9 run (Warren kick)
Marriotts Ridge – Ryan Reeling 2 run (Evan Bury kick)
Westminster – Erik Stranko 26 run (kick blocked)