Heartbreak-14

Chaos 8, Rhinos 2

Tre Lawrence (19) and Dorell Blue (44) of the Hanover Rhinos break the defensive huddle in this file photo from April 6th, 2019. Photo Credit- Chris Bunty.

Recap Boxscore

CHESAPEAKE CITY, Md.- Just when it looked like the Hanover Rhinos were about to crawl out of the winless column on Sunday, they got dragged back in by a series of unfortunate events.

Some of the mistakes were self inflicted, but none hurt worse than the controversial pass interference call against Andrew Geddie in the final minute of the game.

The penalty- wether you agree with the call or not- set up Joshua Snyder-Coy’s game-winning 2-yard touchdown run with 14 seconds left left, which elevated the Cecil County Chaos to a thrilling 8-2 comeback win over the Rhinos at Bohemia Manor High School.

“Heartbreak, that’s really the only word,” Hanover Rhinos’ head coach Noah Sneeringer said. Our defense played stout the entire game, and I’m not one to blame the refs by any means, it’s never the way I’ve been, but the second half, I feel like (the officials) just walked (Cecil County) down the field and our defense had to make goal line stand after goal line stand. Then, a questionable P.I. to end the game. Our defense was on the field the entire second half. They were just gassed by the time we needed them most.”

The Rhinos remain winless (0-4) on the season, and this newest invention of a way to lose left Sneeringer and the rest of the bench befuddled and shell-shocked.

Though he was stoic and composed in the post-game interview, Sneeringer was anything but on the sideline in the immediate aftermath of the call. He fired his cap into the ground, causing his sunglasses to break upon impact with the artificial turf.

He made sure to get the officials’ information cards after the game as well, and to their credit, two members of the officiating crew returned from the parking lot with their information.

Both teams ran afoul of the officiating crew frequently on the afternoon- Cecil County (4-0) was flagged 23 times for 146 yards, and the Rhinos added 15 penalties for 152 yards.

However, it was the penultimate drive of the afternoon that produced the most impactful infractions of the night.

With the Rhinos nursing a 2-0 lead that they had held since late in the second quarter, the Chaos’ offense took the field to start at their own 29 just south of the two-minute warning.

Quarterback Larry Jones hit reciever Curtis Biah with two quick outs for 12 and 11 yards, with Biah getting out of bounds on the last play.

After an incompletion by Jones, the quarterback rolled left, but was contained by Dorell Blue, so he scrambled inside for 8 yards, then angled out of bounds right in front of Rhinos’ defensive coordinator/linebacker Chris Conley.

Another incompletion by Jones brought up 4th-and-2 at the Hanover 40.

With the game on the line, Larry Jones rolled left and fired a pass to Myric Jones on another out route for 13 yards and a first down to the Hanover 27.

After a Cecil County timeout that stopped the clock with 34 seconds remaining, the Chaos broke the huddle.

Jones took the snap, dropped back, lifted his front shoulder, and fired a deep ball to the left front corner of the end zone. Waiting there was receiver Dion Cruz, who had run around Geddie to the outside. Geddie recovered and was trailing close behind his man. As the ball sailed toward the corner pylon, Geddie and Cruz were engaging in some ferocious jockeying for position, hungrily grasping for prime position. Both players had their hands on eachother as the ball descended. Cruz got the better position and jumped for the ball, putting both hands around the pigskin. Geddie raked at the ball with his hand, dislodging it and forcing it to drop harmlessly to the turf. Not so harmless, however, was the penalty flag that had fluttered down beside the play.

“I honestly thought the ref was calling the push off on the receiver and was gonna back (the Chaos) up,” Conley said. “You can’t make those calls that determine the outcome of a game when it’s a 50-50 thing.”

“Oh, I thought it was a great play,” Sneeringer said. “(Geddie) turned around and he put his body between the receiver and the ball, and that’s what you’re taught as a D.B. How that was P.I., I didn’t get a reasoning behind it. (The referee) just said it was P.I.”

The loss left Conley visably shaken as he stood in full uniform, sweaty and battered, hunched over and staring at the ground, in a truck bay, in solitary reflection in the parking lot after the game.

“I was thinking I didn’t know what else to do to win that game,” Conley said. “Our defense played our hearts out. We were in a goal line stand for the entire second half and didn’t break. That P.I. call killed us. Worst call I’ve seen at any level I’ve played at. We stopped them 100 times and then, with the game on the line, they’re gifted penalties to keep them alive. Kills me to lose like that.”

Conley’s unit fought tooth and nail all afternoon as they spilled their sweat and filled their shoes with turf pellets while fighting in vain to protect the lead they gave the Rhinos.

“I’m proud as hell of my defense today,” Conley added. “We stonewalled them with our backs against the wall time and time again, for 59 minutes of game time.”

It was with Cecil County’s backs against the wall that a new member of the Hanover Rhinos made his first lasting impression- both on the hearts of his teamates as well as the scoreboard.

Signed earlier in the week, Brendon Twilley played ball with Josh Reyes and some of the other former Carroll County Cannons’ players on the roster. By days’ end, not only did all his teammates know his name, but they had a profound respect for the multitide of things Twilley can do on a football field.

In the final minute of the first half, Cecil County possessed the ball at its own 1-yard line on 3rd-and-14. The Chaos attempted to force the Rhinos to burn a timeout with a running play, but Twilley shot through the gap, extended his arms, and brought down Donte Williams along the back line of the end zone on a designed sweep. Twilley’s safety is the first one for the Rhinos since Brandon Nicastro accomplished the feat on 4/29/17 vs. the Susquehanna Valley Knights.

Jacori Foley took the short free-kick and returned it 22 yards to the Chaos’ 39. Two first down passes from Cooper Hastings, to Juwan Braddy and Tyler Goralski, respectively, coupled with a roughing the passer penalty, moved the ball to Cecil County’s 5-yard line for one final play before halftime.

After a Hanover timeout, Hastings took the snap and rolled left, before looping back to the right and finding some room to run. Three defenders reacted to him, leaving Delray Ragland, Jr. open, but Hastings threw the ball well behind his receiver while on the run, bringing an end to the half.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME- Delray Ragland, Jr.: 2 catches, 17 yards.

Sunday marked Hastings’ first semi-pro football start. He performed solidly, going 7-18 for 81 yards, and most importantly, had no turnovers.

For the first time all year, Hanover received the second half kickoff, but a personal foul on the kickoff and later, a holding penalty on the offense, sunk the Rhinos into the abyss of a losing field-position battle.

Juny Gonzalez was called on to punt on 4th down, but his punt appeared to strike his personal protecter in the back, and it rolled to a stop behind the line of scrimmage at the 17.

Hanover’s defense not only survived, they thrived, forcing a turnover on downs in four plays when Conley swatted away Larry Jones’ desperation pass in the end zone on 4th down.

Another three-and-out by the Hanover offense lost 11 yards, but this time, the Rhinos sent out Twilley to punt. The Rhinos’ 4th-string punter punched out a 28-yarder under immense pressure to push the Chaos back to the Rhinos’ 43.

John Curtis, Jr. was called for a facemask for the Rhinos while making the tackle on play number one, after which, the Rhinos were hit with a dead-ball foul. A horse-collar tackle by Twilley two plays later pushed the ball to the Hanover 7.

Dorell Blue stuffed Williams on a middle run on first down, emerging from the pile afterward with a fist in the air in celebration. Conley and Reyes slammed the door on 2nd down, and Reyes and Zach McAleer stopped fullback Tom Clark for no gain, bringing up 4th down.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME- Zach McAleer: 6 tackles (3 solo), TFL.

After two false start penalties, Charles Smith ended the drive at the goal line on the first play of the 4th quarter with his first career AFA interception. Smith has been eagerly anticipating his first pick since he joined the Rhinos in 2013, and he has been one of the top shutdown corners in Rhinos’ history for awhile.

Once again, the Rhinos’ offense went 3-and-out and called on Twilley to punt. He bombed a Rhinos’ team-record 59 yarder, but it was wiped away by a Hanover penalty. Twilley had to settle for a still-impressive 39-yarder on the official kick, but Cecil County started in great field position at the Hanover 41.

Accounting for nearly one-fourth of the Chaos’ total offense on the day in one play, Williams burst loose for 36 yards. Tre Lawrence made the touchdown saving tackle, which proved to be huge.

On the very next play, Larry Jones had trouble handling the ball, and it popped up in the air, where Reyes plucked it and started a modest return to the Hanover 13.

Shawn Simmons rumbled for 9 yards on the first play of yhe following drive, setting up his two-yard run for a first down, but it would be the Rhinos’ last of the game. On 4th down, Twilley jabbed a 29-yard punt, but Myric Jones returned it for 18 yards, and behind the play, Blue was called for a personal foul that moved the ball to Hanover’s 11.

Medium-sized runs by Williams and Biah were both stopped by Kenrith Vieux, and two Cecil County false starts pushed the Chaos to 3rd-and-19. Myric Jones nearly broke loose on a sweep play, but John Curtis, Jr. made the tackle at the 5. Zach McAleer was ready on 4th down and kept contain on Williams before aggressively wrestling him to the ground to force a turnover on downs.

Hanover came tantalizingly close to wrapping the game up just before the two-minute warning. On third-and-1 from its own 15, Hastings was pressured and forced to give ground. He fired a ball in the direction of Eric Swiger that bounced in front of the nearest defender.

Twilley nailed a 56-yard punt that forced the Chaos to work for their winning touchdown.

The Rhinos had one more chance to win the game after a short kickoff by the Chaos, but Hastings’ desperation heave from the Cecil County 32 tipped off multiple defenders hands before touching the ground in the back right corner of the end zone.

The Rhinos were twice in the red zone in the first half. The first opportunity nearly resulted in a touchdown as Hastings fired a bullet to Devin Hall to convert 4th-and-18 late in the second quarter. Hall was tackled inches from the goal line, but picked up a first down. Three straight running plays were rebuked before Hastings fired a 4th-down pass that Juwan Braddy was only able to acrobatically get one hand on.

Advertisements

Chapter 7: Sunday Stroll

4/14/19: Rhinos at Cecil County Chaos Preview

The first Sunday game in the eight-year history of the Hanover Rhinos comes at a crucial time in the 2019 season. The Rhinos are still in search of their first win of the campaign, but Sunday’s contest won’t be an easy place to find it, as they take on the 3-0 Cecil County Chaos. The Chaos are the 3rd-ranked team in the latest AFA Coaches’ Power Rankings.

To add to the difficulty, this will be the longest road trip of the year for Snacktown’s warriors. The 83-mile trip down PA-216 W is expected to take nearly two hours.

For those unable to make it to the game, the Rhino Charge TV live broadcast will be featured on the “Hanover Rhinos Football” FaceBook page, with the voice of the Hanover Rhinos, George Marinos, on the call at 1:55 PM.

WHEN & WHERE: Sunday at 2 PM, at Bohemia Manor High School, 2755 Augustine Herman Highway, Chesapeake City, MD, 21915.

WEATHER.COM WEATHER FORECAST AT KICKOFF: 72 degrees and cloudy. Precipitation: 14%. Humidity: 63%. Wind: 8 MPH. Showers expected by halftime, and potential for thunderstorm around 5 PM.

ROAD WARRIORS: Chesapeake City is the farthest the Rhinos will travel since going 125 miles to Williamsport to meet the Susquehanna Valley Knights on 3/25/17. On that day, Hanover set a franchise-record with 309 rushing yards in a 32-0 victory

LAST MEETING: This is the first game between the Rhinos and the Cecil County Chaos. Hanover is 8-13-1 all-time against first-time opponents.

RHINOS’ OUTLOOK: Despite falling behind the rival York Silver Bullets 26-0 early in the third quarter last week, the Rhinos never gave up and battled back to earn some positives to build on against the #2-ranked team in the league.

Corbin Bailey’s winding 9-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter capped off the Rhinos’ intial 4-play, 42-yard scoring drive, and Cooper Hastings hit Delray Ragland, Jr. for a 23-yard touchdown late in the 4th as the Rhinos outscored the Bullets 14-12 in the final 30 minutes of play.
Hastings ran his completion streak to 5 begin his semi-pro career before throwing his first career incompletion in the 4th quarter.
The return of Dustyn Lauver and Phoenix Russell to the Hanover defense was spoiled by 414 scrimmage yards from the Silver Bullets’ offense on Saturday. Both looked good in their first game back from offseason retirements, however. Lauver plugged the middle of the defensive line and racked up 4 tackles, while Russell slotted in at outside linebacker, forced a fumble, and was mentioned by defensive captain Chris Conley as a candidate for Defensive Player of the Game.
Lauver also added a quarterback hurry, extending his team-record total to 13 for his career. Dorell Blue is close behind with 11 quarterback hurries in his Rhinos’ career.
Charles Smith will take another shot at eclipsing Lakeith Parker’s team record for career deflections on Sunday. Smith remains one deflection behind Parker’s career total of 13.
Entering Sunday’s game at 10th on the franchise’s career all-purpose yardage list with 465, Delray Ragland, Jr. would move up to 6th by recording 53 more ap yards. Running back Shawn Simmons is 11th with 382 ap yards, 340 of those being rushing yards. The bruising back needs 133 rushing yards to break DeAnte Weldon’s team record for a career. Sunday will be just Simmons’ 8th as a Rhino.

Punter Gary Ondecko, Jr. now has 38 punts for 1,278 yards in his Hanover career. He is 11 punts and 140 yards shy of breaking Jordan Gardner’s all-time team records for both. Ondecko, Jr. already holds the Rhinos’ career record for punts downed inside the opponents’ 20. He added his 6th such punt in the game vs. York on a second-quarter 37-yarder that was downed at the Bullets’ two. His punts were especially tough to handle last week, as York put two of his 4 attempts on the ground and only managed 2 return yards for the game.

SCOUTING THE CHAOS: Are we witnessing a team growing up before our very eyes? Through three games, the Chaos have already equaled their franchise record for most wins in a season.

The Chaos are in their 3rd year, and 4th season between spring and fall. They debuted in the XEFL in fall of 2017 with a 1-6 record. Cecil County followed that up with an 0-7 record in the ECFA in spring 2018, and it went 3-5 in fall 2018, again in the XEFL.

“Dedication and chemistry (is the difference),” Chaos head coach and owner Kevin Coy said. “We have always had the talent. Just needed to put it together. A few key pickups helped.”

The Chaos are led by a havoc-wreaking defense that has forced 10 turnovers already in 2019. They scored three times on defense in a 30-0 win over the Delmarva Herons two weeks ago. Joshua Snyder-Coy and Myric Rhodes scored interception returns of 55 and 42 yards, respectively, while Royce Ruffin scooped up a fumble and rumbled 6 yards to paydirt in the lopsided victory.

Last week, Rhodes was at it again, as he added a punt return touchdown.

Hanover Rhinos’ Sponsor Series: Exchange Club of Hanover

The Exchange Club of Hanover is a service organization dedicated to serving the local area.

In the words of the Exchange Club (http://www.hanoverexchangeclub.com/index.html)- “Through the Programs of Service – Americanism, Community Service, and Youth Programs – members support activities that benefit youth, promote pride in our country, and honor military and public service providers, to name a few. Exchange’s National Project is the prevention of child abuse.

The Exchange Club of Hanover has partnered with the Hanover Rhinos for a second straight year in 2019. Listen to long-time Hanover Exchange Club board member George Hubbard discuss why his organization feels sponsoring the Rhinos is important and find out information about other programs the Exchange Club offers locally in this interview with Rhino Charge TV’s George Marinos.

Slow Start Dooms Rhinos

Dorm Dominates, But Rhinos Making Strides

Hanover Rhinos’ running back Shawn Simmons (1) follows the lead block of Sam Grenier (56) as quarterback Corbin Bailey looks on in the background. Photo Credit- Christopher M. Bunty.

Recap Boxscore

GLENVILLE, Pa.- Hanover Rhinos’ head coach Noah Sneeringer has often said that a head coaches’ third year is the one where his gameplan starts to really take hold.

In this, his third full year, the Rhinos have now scored in 6-straight games for the first time since doing it in 9-straight from 4/11/15-3/19/16.

However, the Rhinos could not overcome a slow start coupled with 150 receiving yards and 3 total touchdowns by Doobie Dorm, as they fell 32-14 to the York Silver Bullets at Manheim Adventure Park on Saturday afternoon.

“I mean, it’s disappointing, especially when you go game-planning for a team that doesn’t really show up,” Rhinos’ head coach Noah Sneeringer said. “(York) had 5-to-6 new faces that randomly showed up on the roster on Wednesday night- (Bob Moore) wasn’t the QB we were looking to face, so on and so forth, that made the difference. We thought we had a pretty good gameplan coming in, we made the adjustments at halftime, but it was too little, too late at that point.”

The Rhinos (0-3) have now scored multiple times in 4 of their last 6 games dating back to last year, a feat the team hasn’t accomplished since the tail-end of the 2015-2016 9-game scoring streak.

The Rhinos built a 26-0 hole early in the third quarter, but the big play was Kendrick Gillespie’s controversial touchdown catch to open the scoring late in the first stanza.

On the 13th play of York’s intial possession, the Silver Bullets faced 3rd-and-goal from the Hanover two yard line.

Moore took the snap, rocked back, and fired a fade toward Gillespie in the back left corner of the end zone. Gillespie rose up and snagged the ball above cornerback Matt Fritz, but the Rhinos’ March Defensive Player of the Month extended his arms and forced Gillespie out of bounds as he tried to get his feet down.

Photographs of the play appear to show Gillespie landing with both feet nearly 12 inches out of bounds. The officials called it a touchdown, however, and a big day passing for Moore was well underway.

After being released from his contract with the Harrisburg Sharks of the NEAFL at the beginning of the week so he could return to York, Moore riddled the Rhinos’ defense for 305 yards and 4 scores through the air. He added 83 yards on the ground on 8 carries, including a number of calculated, but wildly athletic scrambles.

Dorm scored a natural hat trick with scoring catches of 50 and 24 yards sandwiching a back-breaking 51-ysrd interception return touchdown on the final play of the first half.

Down 26-0 early in the third, the Hanover defense lit the spark for Snacktown’s warriors.

After a 24-yard jaunt by Moore gave York a first down at its own 40, the Bullets went with a more traditional running play on the next snap. Returning to the Hanover lineup after announcing his retirement this training camp, Phoenix Russell ripped possession away from the ballcarrier, and defensive captain Chris Conley pounced on the ball and emerged from the pile with it.

Starting at the York 42, quarterback Corbin Bailey guided the offense down the field with a 7-yard pass to former Bullet Juwan Brady in the flat, and a 20-yard rifle to Devon Hall between the hashmarks.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME- Devon Hall: 4 catches, 49 yards.

Hall led the Rhinos with 4 catches for 49 yards in the contest, and was named Rhinos’ Offensive Player of the Game for his efforts.

Bailey completed a short pass to tight end Adrian Acevedo to bring the ball just inside the York 9, and then the agile signal-caller let his supreme athleticism take over on the next play.

Bailey took the shotgun snap and looked left, squaring his shoulders to throw. Suddenly, he tucked the ball and took off. He angled away from the containing end, sliced across the middle and ran away from a linebacker who had the angle, before shifting his weight to absorb a hit by a defensive back so he could fall into the end zone for a touchdown. Bailey flung the ball in the air to celebrate, and it comically fell just to his left, whacking Hall in the arm as he congratulated his quarterback.

Bailey returned for the two-point conversion and slammed a pass into the arms of Eric Swiger on a slant to make the score 26-8.

On the ensuing possession, the Rhinos appeared to have forced a three-and-out after a tackle by Josh Reyes and a pass-breakup by Russell. However, York head coach Blair Powell made the unusual call to go for it on 4th-and-3 from his own 37. A false start made it 4th-and-8, but Powell still insisted on going for the first down.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME- John Curtis, Jr.

Flushed by Dustyn Lauver, Moore scrambled to the right and weighed the options between running and throwing. He saw Wesley Mondesir up the seam and fired a pass to him, but John Curtis, Jr. undercut the route and intercepted the ball near midfield. Curtis, Jr. sprung to his feet and raced over toward the York sideline, stopping just in front of it and rolling the Bullets’ ball back to them, much to the anger of the members of York’s coaching staff.

“I was actually with the York Silver Bullets before I came to the Rhinos,” Curtis, Jr. said, “So there was a little more of a heated argument there on the sideline, when I rolled the ball over there, it was for a reason. It was all out of fun. I’m really cool with them, they’re good coaches and I don’t want to disrespect anyone, but, you know, what happens during the game is during the game.”

Hanover did not take advantage of the turnover, however, as Bailey was picked off by Carlie Newman three plays later. Newman returned the ball to the Hanover 46.
York earned 1st-and-goal at the Hanover two after Moore’s 28-yard pass to Mondesir. The Rhinos made Matt Fritz’ touchdown-saving tackle stand up, however.
Lauver stuffed a first down run, and his best-buddy, Phoenix Russell, brought Moore down for a 4-yard loss on a read-option keeper. Moore’s third down pass was dropped by Bernard Jackson after Zach McAleer walloped the running back in the flat. After a York timeout, Moore scrambled around in the backfield and tossed the ball up for grabs along the back line of the end zone. McAleer flew in like a streaking bullet, tipped the ball, and crashed into the two York receivers who were under the ball, taking them out of the play and sealing the Rhinos’ first true goal line stand of the season.

Hanover’s ensuing drive was kept alive when punter Gary Ondecko, Jr. was banged into in the end zone by the York rush, drawing a penalty flag. However, he also got the punt off, and Dorm muffed the ball at the Hanover 40, then inadvertantly kicked it back about 10 yards as he tried to recover. Andrew Geddie raced down the field and dove on the loose ball for his second fumble recovery of the season, and third of his Hanover career, all on punt coverage. He’s two recoveries shy of tying the Rhinos’ career record, which is currently held by Dorell Blue and Richard Settle.

Once again, the Rhinos squandered the field position, despite a physical 26-yard catch and run by Delray Ragland, Jr. along the sideline. Cooper Hastings threw his first career incompletion on the drive after starting his semi-pro career 5-for-5. The drive ended when Hastings’ pass was picked off in the end zone.

York brazenly went for it on 4th down again, this time at its own 23. Once again, the Bullets failed to convert, as McAleer broke up another pass.

One play later, Hastings found Ragland in the front right corner of the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown to make the score 26-14.

March 2019 Players of the Month

It’s an exciting time around Hanover! The end of another spring month means it’s time for another edition of the Rhino Charge Players of the Month awards.

These awards are for March 2019, during which Snacktown’s warriors played two regular-season games, one vs. the Franklin County Tigers and one at the Maryland Phantoms.

This is the third year the Rhinos have given out monthly awards. The Rhino Charge Player of the Month awards history can be found here. The March 2019 awards are an important landmark in team history, as both the offensive and defensive awards were won by positions that never won them before.

Without further ado, here are the March 2019 Player of The Month awards, as voted on by the Hanover Rhinos’ players and staff.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE MONTH- ERIC SWIGER

Swiger becomes the first wide receiver to win the Rhino Charge Offensive Player of the Month Award after posting 4 catches for 102 yards and a touchdown in the first two weeks of the 2019 season. To put this in perspective, the Rhinos’ leading receiver in 2018, Melvin Velines, posted 78 yards for the entire season! Swiger also set a Rhinos’ record for longest play from scrimmage in team history with his 70-yard truck-and-run in the fourth quarter vs. Franklin County.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE MONTH- MATT FRITZ

Fritz came to Rhinos’ training camp as a wide receiver, but switched to corner after a couple of preseason games. It didn’t take him long to be noticed as more than just a compliment to Rhinos’ lockdown corner Charles Smith. After two games and one smooth interception, Fritz becomes the first cornerback to win the Rhino Charge Defensive Player of the Month Award.

SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE MONTH- DELRAY RAGLAND, JR.

Ragland almost made a house-call on kick return duty in week two at Baltimore, and if teams keep kicking to him, he’s going to earn the second-ever kick return touchdown in Hanover Rhinos’ team history. Ragland has now moved up to 10th on Snacktown’s career all-purpose yardage list.

Chapter 6: The Battle For York County

4/6: Rhinos vs. York Silver Bullets Preview

Rivalry. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “Competition for the same objective or for superiority in the same field.

The Battle For York County clearly fits this description- it’s two semi-pro football teams that play their games roughly 20 miles apart and meet once or twice a year, while trying to one-up each other and earn a year full of bragging rights.

Those teams are the Hanover Rhinos and the York Silver Bullets. The Bullets have 5 consecutive wins in the series.

The Silver Bullets’ winning-streak dates back to 2013- but that hasn’t done much to tune down the passion this rivalry game brings out every year.

Players on both teams circle this date on the calendar long before the AFA season begins. Though they might deny it, players on each side find their eyes darting up and down their squads’ schedule the day it is released, hungrily searching for the name of their rival, followed by the date they will get to meet on the gridiron again.

April 6th is that date in 2019, and that happens to be this Saturday. Less than three days remain until the greatest spectacle in local semi-pro football takes center stage.

WHEN & WHERE: Saturday at 1 PM, at Manheim Adventure Park, Glenville, Pa., 17329.

WEATHER.COM WEATHER FORECAST AT KICKOFF: 60 degrees and cloudy. Precipitation: 22%. Humidity: 63%. Wind: 6 MPH. Chance of showers in the morning and the evening.

SERIES HISTORY: Silver Bullets lead 5-1. The Rhinos have been outscored 167-33.

LAST MEETING: On 5/26/18 against York, the Rhinos scored on what would be the final play of the game with 10 minutes left in the 4th quarter. Shade Gesser ran under an 18-yard pass from Melvin Velines in the end zone- Velines finished with a perfect quarterback rating on two pass attempts- and after Delray Ragland, Jr.’s two-point conversion, the game was called due to boiling tensions between the two teams. All that touchdown managed to do was keep Hanover from being shutout by the Silver Bullets for the third straight time. York rode 4 touchdowns by quarterback Greg Murray, a former Rhino, to a 36-8 victory in Hanover’s final game of the season.

RHINOS’ OUTLOOK: A week after posting the lowest single-game completion percentage in Hanover Rhinos’ history, Corbin Bailey looked like a different quarterback last week against the Phantoms. He became the first Rhinos quarterback since Jake Orner on 6/3/17 to complete at least 50% of his passes in a game. Cooper Hastings came off the bench for the last drive and went 3-of-3, making Hanover passers 13-of-22 in the contest. It was the first time Hanover completed at least 50% of their passes as a team since 5/9/15, at the Fredericksburg Bears, when Bob Moore and Chase Scharf combined to go 10-of-16 in the Rhinos’ 19-14 win.

Meanwhile, Hastings has started his semi-pro career 4-for-4 for 93 yards and a touchdown, good for a perfect 158.3 quarterback rating.

Delray Ragland, Jr. tied the franchise’s single-game record for receptions last Saturday, hauling in 5 passes, a feat that was last done by Alex Isennock in the 2016 season-opener. Ragland Jr.’s explosive day on kick returns (3-for-102) also gives him 272 kick return yards in his career, moving him within 77 yards of tying DeAnte Weldon’s team record. Ragland, Jr. is now 10th on the Rhinos’ career all-purpose yardage list, with Shawn Simmons hot on his heels. Simmons is 11th all-time, just 5 ap yards behind Ragland, Jr., after amassing 57 rushing yards vs. the Phantoms. The bruising running back now has 325 career rushing yards, and needs 148 to break Weldon’s all-time Rhinos record.

Speaking of Weldon, he returned from retirement once again on Saturday. He returned one kick for 19 yards.

On defense, Rhinos’ safety Lloyd Welford recorded two tackles vs. the Phantoms, giving him 97 career solo tackles, once again breaking Richard Settle’s team record.

SCOUTING THE BULLETS: The Bullets endured the same difficult schedule the Rhinos started the season with. They narrowly fell to the Phantoms in double-OT in week one, then slipped past the Franklin County Tigers 8-0 in week two to steal the #2-spot in the AFA Power Rankings. Shannon Valenti provided the only touchdown of the game, a one-yard run. Kendrick Gillespie added the two-point conversion. Gillespie has both of York’s two-point conversions on the season.

Proud Effort

Hanover Rhinos’ quarterback Cooper Hastings completes a short pass to Juwan Braddy, while a Maryland Phantoms defender tries to knock down the pass. Photo Credit- Donnie Dahlen.

Recap                  Boxscore

BALTIMORE, Md.- The comments on social media this week would have led anyone to believe the Hanover Rhinos and Maryland Phantoms didn’t compete in the same league.

Add to that the fact that the Rhinos had been outscored 124-6 in the last three meetings with the Phantoms, then it’s understandable why Saturday’s contest between the two appeared like a mismatch on paper.

The actual outcome was vastly different, as the Rhinos fought tooth-and-nail before falling to the #1-ranked team in the Atlantic Football Association 28-16.

“Head and shoulders different than last week,” Rhinos head coach Noah Sneeringer said. “It was a complete-180 offensively for us, so I was really proud of the guys. We travelled well, we played with heart today. These guys knew it was going to be a physical matchup, they knew these guys were arguably the best in the league.”

Not only did Hanover grab the lead against the Phantoms for the first time since 3/21/15, the Rhinos held a 16-6 lead in the second quarter.

After Orion Jones raced down the home sideline for a 64-yard touchdown on a broken play to open the scoring for Maryland, the Rhinos went on their most complete drive in some time.

Hanover covered 61 yards in 12 plays to take the lead, despite the drive starting inconspicuously with a 5-yard false start penalty.

On 1st-&-15, Corbin Bailey hit Delray Ragland, Jr. on a bubble screen for 7 yards. Shawn Simmons was given the rock next, and he pounded his way for 9 yards and a first down.

Simmons was racked up 54 yards on 10 first half carries and earned Rhinos’ Offensive Player of the Game honors.

Two plays after his 9-yard run, Simmons showed some burst for a big man and rolled for 22 yards, the Rhinos’ longest run of the season.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME– Shawn Simmons: 12 carries, 57 yards, TD, 2-pt

Juny Gonzalez converted 3rd-&-7 with a 10-yard run, setting the stage for Hanover’s most dramatic moment of the day.

After three consecutive failed plays, the Rhinos faced 4th-&-11 at the Phantoms’ 16 yard-line. Bailey took the snap and immediately looked left before rifling a laser beam to Eric Swiger for a first down at the Maryland 3 as the first quarter ended.

After the teams switched ends, the Rhinos chose to run the ball on the first play. As Bailey retreated to hand the ball off to Simmons, the two looked out of sync on the handoff and Simmons had to stop his momentum to secure the ball. When he got rolling again, he danced a tackle in the backfield and rumbled toward the end zone, falling just across the line with Dwayne Barry on his back.

The Rhinos ran the option on the two-point conversion, with Bailey pitching the ball to Simmons on the perimeter. Simmons ran over the cornerback and fell while stretching the ball. He landed, ball in hand, touching the front edge of the goal line to give the Rhinos an 8-6 lead.

A strange play happened on the ensuing kickoff. Maryland’s Orion Jones burst to the left down the home sideline and ran for 46 yards before encountering Aaron Jolley, who swiped the ball loose for Hanover. Barry came from standing with both feet out of bounds back into the field of play to recover the loose ball. All the while, a penalty flag flew for a hold against the Phantoms at the end of the return. Sneeringer contended that there should have been an illegal touching penalty on Barry, but did not win the argument.

A 12-yard spurt by Jones began the drive and pushed the ball to the Hanover 48, but two consecutive rushing plays were rejected by the Rhinos’ second-level.

Third-&-five arose for the Phantoms, and quarterback Kyle Gillespie, who normally plays receiver, tried to convert the distance with his arm. Instead, his accurate pass bounced off the reciever’s hands, and into the armspan of T.J. McCauley. The Rhinos’ rover bobbled the ball and batted it around before reaching back and securing his first interception for Hanover. He then turned up field and picked up 9 yards to the Hanover 49.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME– T.J. McCauley

“It was a surprise,” McCauley said. “It bounced right off the reciever and right toward me and I actually juggled it like three times. I think it bounced off Charles (Smith) or the corner on my side, and I was finally able to get my hands on it… it felt good, felt good to get the first one out of the way.”

Hanover’s offense averted near disaster on the first play of the following offensive drive. Bailey’s pass intended for Ragland, Jr. up the seam overshot his reciever by 5 yards and sailed right into the hands of Maryland’s Davon Key, who promptly dropped the ball while trying to tuck and run.

The Rhinos cashed in on their good fortune a few plays later, but not without the help of Simmons’ bowling-ball-esque 3rd-&-10 run that picked up 11 yards and netted the Rhinos’ 8th first down of the game.

Bailey drilled Swiger on a curl route for 13 yards on the next play. Jaishon White and Drequan Morris stopped the Rhinos on the following two running plays, setting up 3rd-&-11 from the Maryland 26. It was there that Bailey took the shotgun snap, pumped left, and stepped up, rolled right and rocked his shoulders back, firing a beautiful strike to Devon Hall in the front right corner of the end zone. Hall, who circumnavigated the cornerback on a double-move, was wide open and secured the catch with both feet in bounds for the touchdown.

Juny Gonzalez plowed his way just across the line on the two-point try to make it a two-possession game at 16-6.

With loud music blaring from the street outside the stadium gates, Gary Ondecko, Jr.’s ensuing kickoff could not have been placed any better. The kick was high, short, and angled toward the home sideline, and the ball landed between two layers of the Phantoms’ kick return unit. Like a streaking missile, Lloyd Welford appeared out of nowhere and dove on the live ball for the Rhinos at the Maryland 38.

Unfortunately for Hanover, the game was about to turn.

Three plays into the drive, on 3rd-&-8, Bailey threw late to the right flat, and  Algie Harper, Jr. picked off the pass. After a cutback, Harper, Jr. was in the clear for a 76-yard return touchdown. Shanorm Young’s two-point conversion trimmed the Rhinos’ lead to 16-14 late in the second quarter.

A three-&-out by the Rhinos gave the Phantoms the ball right back. Two completions by Gillespie and a personal foul on Hanover’s Tre Lawrence moved the ball to the Hanover 1. Young was rejected on the first down carry, but Gillespie kept the ball on second down and followed his blockers into the end zone. Gillespie then found AFA-veteran Edward Pullen over the middle for the two-point conversion, and the Phantoms led 22-16.

Ragland, Jr. exploded for 45 yards on an already short ensuing kickoff to set the Rhinos up at the Maryland 25 with less than a minute to go in thr half. Bailey tucked the ball and looked to run on the first play before finding Gonzalez alone in the flat and flipping him the ball. The shifty back picked up 19 yards, but was stopped in bounds, forcing Sneeringer to burn the Rhinos’ 2nd timeout of the half.

Out of the timeout, Bailey lost 6 yards on a well-contained rushing play, and Sneeringer again raced over to an official to call his final timeout.

John Rogers picked up a pass-interference call in the end zone on the bext play, setting the Rhinos up at the Maryland 1 yard line with 5 seconds left in the half.

With Simmoms on the sideline after suffering a slight injury, the Rhinos opted to go quarterback sneak, but Bailey dropped the snap and the Phantoms swarmed him short of the goal line as the half expired.

The Phantoms received the ball first in the second half and looked to drive a stake in the Rhinos’ hearts. After the kick return slid the ball just across midfield and into Hanover territory, the Phantoms alternated run and pass, reaching the Rhinos’ 11-yard line.

On 2nd-&-6, Gillespie rolled left and lobbed the ball toward the back left corner of the end zone. Suddenly, Matt Fritz leapt and high-pointed the ball for an impressive and much-needed interception.

Three plays later, the Rhinos returned the favor when Simmons and Bailey had another handoff mishap. Bailey handed the ball to Simmons, who couldn’t handle the exchange and put the ball on the ground. Young located the ball first in a massive tangle of arms and legs and made the recovery at the Hanover 28.

The second Phantoms drive to start in Rhinos’ territory nearly fizzled out, but Gillespie fired a back-breaking 11-yard pass to Orion Jones to convert 3rd-&-10 at the Hanover 15. One play later, Young powered his way into the end zone from 4 yards out, and he spun the ball on the ground to celebrate Maryland’s first two-score lead of the season. The two-point try failed, leaving the score at 28-16 in favor of the Phantoms late in the third quarter.

A rather uneventful fourth quarter was highlighted by Marcus Arellius’ interception for Hanover deep in its own territory.

Cooper Hastings came off the bench to play quarterback in the Rhinos’ last possession. He was 3-3 for 23 yards. The rookie has completed all 4 of his pass attempts to start the season.