Meade can't afford to make same mistakes against Arundel

SIDELINES

November 17, 1995|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

You can't make mistakes against Arundel's football team and you have to play four quarters against the Wildcats. Guilty of six ++ turnovers, Meade learned that last Friday when it fell behind, 34-8, in the first half and ultimately lost, 36-22.

As trite as that sounds, it is precisely what eighth-seeded Meade (7-3) has to do to upset the top-seeded Wildcats (10-0) in tonight's 4A quarterfinal in Gambrills. Arundel has won their last four meetings.

Winning football is back at Meade but the question is how far back? Far enough to stop a big-play team averaging 30.2 points while yielding only 12.2 points?

Meade (1-9 last year) is making its first playoff appearance since 1987. Third-year coach Jerry Hartman has done a remarkable job in returning the Mustangs program to the winning ways it was accustomed to from the time it opened in 1977 under the late Jerry Mears until 1990 (1-9).

Hartman has delivered the school's first winning season since 1989 (7-3) but are the Stangs ready for the next step -- winning a playoff game?

It appears after what happened last week that drawing Arundel on the Wildcats' home turf in the first round is Meade's worse nightmare. Consider that Meade has lost its last two games, by 21-0 to last year's state champion North County and, if it wasn't for a strong second half, would have been blown out by Arundel.

In contrast, having to beat a good team a second straight week does not have the very confident Wildcats worried.

"We expect to put points on the board," said Arundel coach Bill Zucco. "Our philosophy is kind of like North County's -- we'll give up some, but we will capitalize on turnovers and see if you can catch up."

That's exactly what Meade's ball-control offense, which revolves around Roman Harrison, will have to avoid to have a shot at winning. Meade's fancy is keeping it on the ground with relentless, time-consuming drives usually after getting good field position via the punting of Chris Grayson.

Arundel likes to gamble and burn a team with the big play, forcing its opponents to play catch-up. Meade fell into the trap.

Harrison, the county's leading rusher (school records of 1,562 yards and 19 touchdowns) coming in averaging 161 yards per game, was limited to 44 yards in the first half by the Wildcats

defense, led by linebacker John Norsworthy (12 tackles). Grayson, who was averaging a county-leading 36.5 yards a punt, had a rare off-night with three poor punts.

Meade paid dearly.

In the first half last week, Arundel built a commanding lead by capitalizing on Meade turnovers.

Jamie Doffermyre picked off a Malwan Johnson pass, fumbled on his return but Norsworthy scooped it up and raced 53 yards to six points with 7:57 left in the first period. Meade fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Adam Berlew pounced on it.

Four plays later, with 6:12 left in the first period, junior quarterback Erik Lipton completed his first pass of the night, a 36-yard scoring strike to Joe Parker.

After Meade got back into the game on a 1-yard scoring plunge by Harrison on the final play of the first period, the Lipton-to-Parker combo struck on the second play of the second period for a 66-yard touchdown. Meade hung in there until the final minute before intermission.

A short punt by Grayson gave the Wildcats a first down at the Meade 39 and four plays later Lipton hit Gene Collins for an 8-yard touchdown pass with 50 seconds left in the half. After Meade got a 45-yard kickoff return from Damion Moss, Johnson was picked off by Mike McKnight, who returned his eighth interception 42 yards for a touchdown.

Meade outplayed Arundel in the second half (14-2 scoring and 130 yards to 58 in total offense) and Hartman said his team has "to build on that." The Stangs can't afford to fall behind early.

Arundel can concede 100 yards rushing to Harrison, but Meade can't concede 200 yards passing to Lipton, who has set several school records including yards passing (1,826) and touchdown passes (18), and expect to win.

And while Arundel doesn't have a 1,000-yard rusher, the Wildcats' rushing by committee with Norsworthy, Gene Collins and Joe Williams has produced 1,624 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Williams' season ended two weeks ago with a broken ankle, but as Parker said, "We just re-grouped and know we have to play harder without Joe."

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