Cannons Outlast Rhinos; Hanover falls to 1-3
Timothy Harrison ran for two touchdowns, including the winner 3:06 into the fourth quarter, and T.J. McCauley returned an interception for a touchdown, as Carroll County slipped past the Hanover Rhinos 18-8 to end a two-game losing streak.
Hanover head coach Ben Davis’ defense recorded 3 interceptions in the game. Jack Isennock returned his pick 35 yards, which is the Rhinos’ longest defensive return of the season.
“I’m proud of those guys every week,” Davis said. “My defense is my gem, because I coach it. I’m proud of that every week. It’s my little diamond on my ring, and it shines pretty.”
The Rhinos dominated possession in the first half, doubling the Cannons in plays run from scrimmage 32-16. The yardage was neck-and-neck, however, with Hanover holding a slim 65-54 edge at intermission.
A personal foul on the opening kickoff helped the Rhinos move the ball to the Carroll County side of midfield, but Jordan Gardner’s deep pass down the home sideline was intercepted by Josh Yacovissi.
Starting at the opponents’ 45 after a short punt, Hanover marched the second drive down to the 11. Alex Isennock broke stride to reach back and make a kneeling 16-yard catch on 3rd-and-11 to keep the drive churning.
A fumbled snap and three incompletions ensued, with Gardner’s fourth down pass hitting the goal line chalk as tight end Adrian Acevedo ran the other way.
DeAnte Weldon crashed in from the backside to sack Carroll County quarterback Andrew Geddie, throwing the following drive into retreat, but a booming punt off the foot of Yacovissi into a strong down-wind flipped field position.
A brand-new addition from the Maryland Redhawks fall team, running back Bernard Jackson, made some headway, bulling his way to 11 yards on two carries, but the drive ended with a failed fake punt on fourth down, giving the Cannons great field position at the Hanover 34.
Amir Pearson was inches away from intercepting Geddie’s first down pass and taking it the distance. The spiral to the right flat was tipped by Pearson, and then he had it dancing on his fingertips as he leaned back, with nothing but 65-yards of green grass separating him from a score.
The pass eventually fell incomplete, and Geddie heaved a wobbler to Yacovissi on 3rd-and-9 for 28 yards, with linebacker Jeremy Renoll chasing the receiver down from behind at the 5.
Harrison dashed behind his left tackle on the next play for his first touchdown. Harrison was rejected on the two-point try by the middle of the Rhinos’ line.
The Cannons recovered Yacovissi’s squib kickoff, but the defense averted disaster.
On 3rd-and-5, defensive end Dustin Knode, a former Cannon, flushed Geddie out of the pocket to the right. Knode grabbed at him and missed, then chased him back to the left, where Weldon wrapped up for his second sack of the game.
Weldon, who came into the game with no sacks, is now tied for the team lead with linebacker Richard Settle.
Jackson and Gardner had a little hiccup on a hand-off, and former Rhino Dave McCleary banged out the loosely-held football, with Mike Greengold recovering at the Hanover 19.
With 2 minutes until halftime, Geddie went deep over the middle, but his pass tipped off the hands of a leaping Nate Huff, and safety Jack Isennock, who had already begun his leap, adjusted to the ball and caught it.
He motored up the visitors’ sideline before being tackled at the Hanover 45.
“It was exhilarating,”Jack Isennock said, “A total adrenaline-rush. Before the play, we called that. Amir was like ‘You gonna get this. Don’t drop it. I’m gonna smack someone.’ The ball sailed over the receiver’s arms and I grabbed it and told myself I’m taking it back (for a touchdown).”
The Rhinos gave the ball right back on the next play, when Gardner’s deep ball for Jordan Banks was tipped by DJ Gregory, and intercepted by Neal Curtis.
Adrian Acevedo (Gettysburg ’10) made sure what Jack Isennock started would not go to waste.
With Carroll County again in the two-minute offense, as they looked to go 75-yards in 1:23, Geddie threw a quick pass toward the home sideline.
Acevedo, who was getting his first major opportunity of 2016 at linebacker, jumped in front of the pass and snared it. He was guided out of bounds after a short return.
“At first, I saw the quarterback’s eyes, I read the whole thing, so I didn’t plan on blitzing,” Acevedo said. “I stayed out there, he tossed it, and I made a cut. Thought I was going to score, but, he pushed me out at the end.”
Acevedo nearly quadrupled his season tackle output on Saturday, as he racked up 7 stops (4 solo).
A personal foul on the Cannons’ bench moved the ball to the 11.
On 3rd-and-9, Gardner lobbed the ball to Alex Isennock in the back right corner of the end zone.
Alex Isennock worked his way in front of the defender and boxed him out perfectly, before reaching up to pluck the ball out of the air like a cherry from a tree.
“(That move) took a lot of practice,” said Alex Isennock, the Rhinos leading receiver on the season. “Once I saw the ball, it was all instinct. I boxed out like crazy and high-pointed the ball for a nice touchdown.”
Gardner twice completed the two-point conversion, but a penalty wiped out the first one, so he hit Jordan Banks with a lob from the 7 to give Hanover the 8-6 lead.
Carroll County marched to the Hanover 23 on 10 plays to start the third, but, when Geddie tucked the ball for the 9th run of the drive on 4th-and-8, Dominic Cotterino popped the ball loose with his helmet, and Dorell Blue recovered for the Rhinos.
The Rhinos chugged to their own 37 on the strength of 11 and 12 yard runs by Weldon and Jackson, respectively, but a fumbled hand-off and a sack curtailed the momentum.
An 8-play Carroll County drive ended when Harrison burst right into the arms of Dustyn Lauver, but had enough forward momentum to finish his 15-yard run by falling into the end zone.
Blue stripped the ball from McCleary on the two-point try, leaving the score at 12-8.
Once again, Carroll County recovered the squib kick, with Alex Bocshe doing the honors.
Lloyd Welford gave the Rhinos hope when he picked off Tyler Westphal’s pass at the Hanover 15.
However, McCauley stepped in front of Gardner’s pass for Michael Small and made a beeline to the end zone for the back-breaking 24-yard touchdown with 8:56 to go.
Hanover twice possessed the ball over midfield in the final minutes, but could not convert.