STEVENSVILLE — Kent Island High’s football team was down 14-0 in Friday night’s season opener.
“And it was an ugly 14-0,” Bucs head coach Damian Ferragamo said. “We were awful in the first half. Offensively we were awful. I think we ran four plays in the second quarter, and one was taking a knee.
“Defensively, I don’t think we were awful, but we kept giving up that conversion on third-and-long, couldn’t get off the field,” Ferragamo continued. “We were very fortunate to be down 14-0 to the point we took a knee going into halftime with the ball at the (Kent Island) 30-yard line because we needed to regroup.”
The Buccaneers regrouped all right, reeling off 28 consecutive points and stifling Easton’s offense until the final 3 minutes on the way to a 28-21 come-from-behind victory before a nearly packed house Andy Schipul Stadium.
“We figured, ‘Hey, we’ve got to turn it around,’” Kent Island senior left tackle Charlie Ritz said. “Our offensive line talked. They kept crashing us from the outside and we figured we got to communicate more, and that’s what we did. Started blocking better. Defense did well. Got some good stops, and we drove the football.”
Kent Island took the second-half kickoff and drove 64 yards in seven plays, capped by quarterback Matt Burnside’s 28-yard touchdown pass to Mason Brockington with 8 minutes, 12 seconds left in the third quarter. James Gardner drilled the first of his four straight point-after kicks, pulling the Bucs within 14-7.
“We’re not giving up,” junior fullback and inside linebacker Kasey Heath said of Kent Island’s second-half mentality. “Our heads were down but we got in a circle, did our Buc checks and we got fired up. Defense, we got some quick three-and-outs. That changed the momentum for us.”
So did Kent Island’s special teams play.
Easton didn’t gain a yard on its first possession of the second half, putting Zac Bramble in punt formation. Bramble snagged a high snap, but was off balance as he tried to hurry his kick, which was blocked by Kent Island and recovered by Jack Mulligan at the Warriors’ 6. Easton’s defense stiffened, but on fourth-and-goal, Heath bulled into the end zone from two yards out. Gardner’s second PAT forged a 14-all tie with 4:01 left in the quarter.
A 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty against Easton on Heath’s score, set up the ensuing kickoff on the Warrior 45. Ferragamo decided to gamble with an onsides kick the Bucs recovered at the Easton 37.
Heath (13 carries, 41 yards) carried for 12. Garrett Griebel gained another 13 yards. Ryan Sweiderk ran for 11 before scoring on a 1-yard run that gave Kent Island a 21-14 lead with 2:49 to go in the third.
“I really feel like our kids felt like they had won the game at halftime,” Easton head coach Pat McGlinchey said. “And we know as old guys that you have to play a full game before you win a football game. And they came out, ran right down our throats. Everyone was looking at each other, ‘Who’s going to stop it?’
“Those turnovers were huge,” McGlinchey said of the blocked punt and onsides-kick recovery. “That’s a 21-point swing. That’s hard to come back from.”
The Buccaneers weren’t quite finished.
After another Warrior three-an-out, Kent Island took possession at its own 43 with 1:04 left in the third. Easton didn’t get the ball back until the Bucs had chewed up 7:23 of clock with a 14-play, 57-yard march that was capped by Dalton Mason’s 13-yard touchdown run off left tackle with 5:41 remaining.
“A long drive, it’s just adrenaline pumping,” Ritz said. “You just go play by play, listen to what your quarterback says, do your job. That’s what we’re taught. That’s what we did. We won.”
Ferragamo praised the job Ritz and his linemates did in the second half.
“We have a heckuva offensive line,” Ferragamo said. “We have four guys on there from last year who got significant time (in the spring); that’s Luke Ferragamo, Tyler Herring, Charlie Ritz, Jeremy Smith. And Cooper Dellane, the newcomer at right guard, Cooper may be playing better than any of them right now. Those kids did a fantastic job because that’s a real good Easton football team over there.”
But the Warriors continued to be stymied by the halftime adjustments made by Kent Island defensive coordinator Tim Goodrich. On Easton’s next possession, junior quarterback Kevin O’Connor, who completed 16 of 29 passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns, threw two incompletions and was sacked twice, giving the ball back to the Bucs.
After putting up 14 points and 184 yards in first-half offense, Easton was held without a first down on its first three possessions of the second half and had a minus 11 yards.
“After every play we kind of came in there and gave some words to each other,” Heath said of the defense. “Positive words, not bad words. Positive words and we got together and we rallied up.”
O’Connor completed 7 of 11 passes during a 12-play, 74-yard scoring drive that ended with his 5-yard touchdown pass to LJ Murray with 11.5 seconds remaining. Jed Smith’s extra-point kick made it 28-21.
“I am proud of our kids for driving the field in that last series, and even having an opportunity at an onsides kick,” McGlinchey said.
Easton scored on its first and last series of the first half. O’Connor’s 24-yard touchdown run staked the Warriors to a 7-0 lead with 4:15 elapsed in the game. O’Connor punctuated a 75-yard drive with 11.5 seconds left in the first half when he rolled left and hit Shareef Curry with a 5-yard touchdown pass for a 14-0 halftime lead that wouldn’t last.
“These kids are hard to read because they always seem like they’re ho-hum,” Ferragamo said of his team. “But they’re not. It’s just their personality. But they’re intense kids. And they came out, and being able to go down that first offensive series and score, being able to get two big special-teams plays. … That’s what I’m so proud about. The total team effort of all three phases tonight. Especially in the second half.”
Notes: Burnside completed 6 of 8 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown. … Neither quarterback threw an interception.
MILFORD, Del. — Jaden Jones and Dario Belizaire each scored touchdowns for Cambridge-South Dorchester in its season-opening loss Friday to Milford.
North Caroline 34
Queen Anne’s 14
RIDGELY — KJ Smothers carried 21 times for 177 yards, Dylan Meekins ran for a touchdown, and Ashton Siwald had three receptions for 47 yards, including a touchdown catch in a losing cause for the Lions.
ANNAPOLIS — Megan Carpenter, Marley Waters and Grace Hines each scored a goal but it wasn’t quite enough Saturday as Kent Island lost 4-3 to River Hill at the Broadneck Tournament.
Brooky Betcher and Ava Ravanbakah each had an assist for the Bucs.
Ravanbakah had a goal and Waters had an assist in a 2-1 loss to Mount de Sales.
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