Sullivan helps Joppatowne catch Kent County, 21-19 1A football

November 13, 1993|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,Staff Writer

Ryan Sullivan, a 5-foot-10 junior, made his first pass reception of the year a thing of beauty for Joppatowne's football team last night.

His 25-yard end-zone catch behind two defenders was the only score of the second half and enabled the Mariners (8-3) to get past visiting Kent County, 21-19, in the first round of the state Class 1A playoffs.

Some halftime adjustments turned a first-half scoring blitz into a defensive struggle, where five second-half turnovers matched the number of first-half touchdowns.

On consecutive fourth-period possessions, Kent County (9-2) recovered a fumble at its 30, lost a fumble on a bad pitch at the Joppatowne 25 (Lewis McKisset returned it 43 yards to the Kent 37), intercepted a pass and threw an interception (Andre Turner at the Kent 41 (his second of the game, a county-high 10th of the season).

Kent wasn't through yet. With 1:44 left, John Hyland, a 255-pound lineman, gave the Eastern Shore school a final shot when he covered a fumble at the Joppatowne 42.

Moments later, Lance Thompson caught an Eric Collyer pass between two defenders at the Mariners' 12. Two plays later, McDowell picked off a pass attempt in the end zone to end Kent's hopes.

Cable Miller, the senior leader, had strained leg ligaments when a teammate fell on him in a midweek practice, but he played much of the way as the regular center/linebacker.

"They were killing us on counter plays in the first half, but we made some halftime adjustments and started sticking them," he said. "Then when they went to the air, I knew we'd win because we have the best defensive backs around."

First-year head coach John Kling cited going to a 5-3 defense (an early-week shift) as an important factor, because it put more men in the middle and let them key on the backs instead of the guards.

Still, the hero of this one was McDowell. The junior running back was pressed into service as the starting quarterback two weeks ago when regular Matt Berger was injured, and he gets better every week.

This time, he wound up as a triple threat -- running, passing, handing off, and playing tough defense.

Those halftime changes kept the outside linebackers at home -- McKisset and McDowell, with help from Avion Epps.

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