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Northwest eliminates Frederick

November 20, 2004|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

FREDERICK, Md. - The Cadets' march is over.

Unable to avoid critical mistakes and hurt by the passing theatrics of Northwest's Ike Whitaker, the Frederick Cadets fell to the explosive Jaguars 41-27 Friday night in the Maryland Class 3A West regional final in front of a huge crowd.

"In some ways we might have given this game away," said Frederick coach Vince Ahearn after his Cadets ended the season with a 10-2 record, their best since 1985.

"It's a bittersweet ending," Ahearn said. "I'm proud of what we accomplished and I feel the worst pain for this group of 22 seniors. The fact we didn't win does not diminish what has been done."

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Frederick took the opening kickoff and marched easily inside the Northwest 10 behind the running of Bruce Dorsey, but the drive stalled and a high snap led to a blocked 27-yard field goal attempt by Andrew Goodwin.

Billy Gross intercepted a Whitaker pass on the Jags' second play, but the Cadets' second mistake came just as quickly, as they turned the ball immediately back over to Northwest on a snap that sailed far over the head of quarterback Cory Rhodes for a 15-yard loss and possession at the Cadets 10.

Four plays later, Northwest (10-2) took its first lead when Whitaker scored from 1 yard out.

Frederick answered with a 75-yard drive in 12 plays - 11 on the ground - when Dorsey scored from the 1 on the first play of the second quarter, making it 6-6.

Whitaker, who ended the night having completed 17 of 22 passes for 253 yards, went to work with three completions to Darren Brownlee that set up a 18-yard TD pass to 5-foot-5 jitterbug Salim Koroma with 7:49 left in the quarter, making it 13-6.

"They were just as quick as what they showed when we scouted them," Ahearn said of Northwest and wideouts Whitaker and Koroma, who caught six passes for 79 yards. "We really didn't play well defensively. Our underneath coverage was too deep on zone drops."

Koroma and Brownlee, who had eight catches for 116 yards, ran free and waited for Whitaker's pinpoint passes all night.

After Frederick's next drive stalled, the Jags started from their own 20 and in less than two minutes scored again. Whitaker completed three passes to Koroma on the drive, the third a 13-yard touchdown strike with 38 seconds left in the half.

The third Cadets mistake was the costliest of all and put Frederick in a 28-6 hole at halftime.

After a Dorsey 15-yard gain and two pass completions, Rhodes picked up 11 yards but lost the football into the hands of Alphonzo Griffin, who promptly raced 63 yards for a score.

"Oh, there's no doubt those were two big scores," Ahearn said. "We had to change our game plan as we went on and tried to catch them off guard."

Frederick didn't surrender in the second half, as Rhodes capped a 60-yard drive with a 22-yard scoring strike to Anthony Walker, who made a nice over-the-shoulder catch far in the left corner of the end zone with 2:36 left in the third quarter.

Quenton Beard then highlighted a defensive stand for Frederick, throwing Whitaker for a 21-yard loss on a bad snap in shotgun formation.

With the ball back, the Cadets went on another 60-yard march. It started with a 30-yard pass play from Rhodes to Gross and ended when Rhodes connected with Walker on a scoring pass from 19 yards out with 10:04 left in the fourth quarter, cutting the deficit to 28-20.

But Whitaker struck again in less than two minutes with a 41-yard TD pass to Andrew Thomas. The Jaguars then scored when Tony Nelson intercepted a Rhodes pass, leading to an 8-yard run and a 41-20 lead with 3:43 to play.

Frederick finished the scoring on its next possession on an 8-yard pass from Rhodes to Gross before Northwest ran out the clock.

"We could have done a lot better," said Dorsey, who gained 134 yards on 23 carries to end his senior season with 2,137 yards rushing. "We've been so much better. Our execution just wasn't there."

Rhodes, who completed 17 of 32 passes for 192 yards and rushed 10 times for 68 yards, waxed philosophical.

"We played our hearts out, but the better team won," he said. "We never thought the game was really over until the end when they downed the ball. My pride is expressed with this team ... so many hours we spent together."

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