OXON HILL – For Malik Baker, it was a quick halftime period.
After allowing Chesapeake High School, a team with three wins this season, come into the their home field in the first round of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) 3A State Playoffs and control the game was the worst performance the Oxon Hill High School football team played in a half in a season. The message was clear, the junior said: play better.
“It was a pretty quick conversation because we played bad,” Baker said. “But the leaders got us right in the locker room and we played better in the second half.”
After entering halftime down by six points, the Clippers scored 17 unanswered points and shutdown the visitors’ running attack to bounce back and win 31-20 on Nov. 8 to progress to the second round.
The win means that Oxon Hill will host North Point on Nov. 15 but according to the players, they earned their playoff win after bouncing back from how they started the game. According to Head Coach Craig Jefferies, the pregame excitement but nerves of playoff football got to his team early in the contest.
“At halftime, we talked to the d-line and on offense, we just had to settle the guys down,” Jefferies said. “We were a little too excited to play them based on what we saw in film and so we just had to get back at it and try again.”
In their first drive of the game, Oxon Hill elected to go for it on fourth-and-15 at the Chesapeake 35-yard line. The play was an incomplete pass, turning the ball over on downs and starting the Cougars offense.
That is when Oxon Hill met running back Victor Listorti. The 5-foot-10, 167-pound running back attacked the Clipper defense at will, by attacking the left and the right sidelines for big gains. Listorti found a hole to score the game’s opening touchdown with a 2-yard run. In their next possession, the junior ran one way then changed direction, causing tacklers to miss before scoring a 31-yard touchdown to give Chesapeake a two-score lead.
Listorti continued to torture the Clippers defense, going into halftime with 129 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
“For us, as a team, that is unacceptable,” two-way player Kimon O’Sullivan said. “We think we should score on every drive and stop every drive on defense so the coaches told us to be calm, execute our plays and we knew if we executed, we would be back in the game.”
Oxon Hill responded with O’Sullivan scoring a rushing touchdown with 5:17 remaining before the intermission. With 49 seconds left, Oxon Hill ran a quick two-minute drill offense down the field, resulting in quarterback Robert Montgomery throwing a 6-yard pass to Baker for his first of two touchdowns to reduce their lead by six points.
To start the third quarter, Oxon Hill received help from its defense after Listorti fumbled the ball and the Clippers recover. Montgomery ran an effective five-play drive that ended with a O’Sullivan collecting his second touchdown in the game with a 6-yard score.
Following the converted extra point attempt, Oxon Hill was in the lead for the first time.
Meanwhile, the Clippers stopped Listorti and fellow running back Devin Forrester by covering up the holes on the sidelines and forcing quarterback Tyler Clark to beat them in the area. They forced the quarterback to throw incomplete passes and get trapped into sacks. After a 13-play drive for the Cougars ended with a turnover on downs, Oxon Hill went back to work on with Montgomery finding Baker again for a 28-yard touchdown to make it 28-20 early in the fourth quarter.
“We had to make those adjustments to stop their run game,” Jefferies said. “They were trying to keep our offense off the field but we were capable of scoring points and moving the ball on them.”
Chesapeake could not respond to the aggressive defense Oxon Hill displayed in the second half as they were forced to punt with five minutes remaining after a three-and-out possession. Once again, the offense continued being effective in the passing and running game, leading to a 31-yard field goal to seal the victory in favor of the Clippers.
Their match-up against North Point will be a big test for the growth of Oxon Hill, Jefferies said. However, with a healthy O’Sullivan at running back and Montgomery in full control of the offense, the head coach expects his players to be ready for the task.
“We just needed to come together today as one,” O’Sullivan said. “They were running it down our throats and as a defense, that’s been a problem for us all year. We continue to practice that and execute our run defense…so we just had to come together as a team and we have to that again next week.”