Last Friday, Urbana’s Ray Gray played one of those games you almost had to rub your eyes to believe.
Gray’s first carry went for a 75-yard touchdown. His fourth carry nearly went for a 57-yard touchdown and would have had he not slowed down ever so slightly, allowing a defender to catch him from behind by the shoestrings. His last three carries all went for touchdowns, including a final 79-yard, leave-everyone-else-in-the-dust blast over the right side that put him right alongside other immortals in Frederick County and the state.
By the time Gray was finished, he torched a respectable Middletown rushing defense for 412 yards and four touchdowns on 24 carries in Urbana’s 34-7 victory, a preposterous 17-yard-per-carry average. Only five other players in state history had ever ran for more than 400 yards in a game and Gray’s sensational effort was the fourth most all-time, trailing only Hancock’s Sam Hess (446 yards, 1998), Cambridge-South Dorchester’s Darnell Dennis (418, 1996) and Old Mill’s Josh Furman (414, 2009). Gray beat Towson’s Ryan Davis (411, 1996) by a yard and Einstein’s Khalil Wilson (409, 2013) by three.
Even more remarkably, Gray didn’t seem to be tired after it was over, despite playing some defensive snaps as well. He was hardly perspiring. And he probably could have carried the ball 10-15 more times for at least another 100 yards if given the chance. It was something you almost had to see to believe, and, if you were lucky enough to see it, you were glad, no matter what team you might have been rooting for.
Only a week earlier, Gray set the Frederick County record with 363 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries in a 25-19 win at Tuscarora, and that remarkable performance seemed rather ordinary by comparison for a remarkable talent like Gray, who will play college football next season at Temple. Over the last two weeks, he has accounted for 775 yards and seven touchdowns on 45 carries for Urbana (17.2 yards per carry). Just unique, special stuff.
Urbana (6-1) has now won six in a row yet still finds itself in a real battle just to make the playoffs. The Class 3A West is that tough and competitive. The Hawks will be heavy favorites to win their next two games against Frederick (2-5) and Thomas Johnson (3-4) before hosting their annual showdown with Linganore in the final week of the regular season.
The Lancers (7-0) remained the lone unbeaten team in the county Friday with a 27-7 victory at Walkersville (3-4), sending the Lions to their fourth consecutive defeat. The Linganore defense remains one of the top stories in the area this season. It’s only allowed 58 points heading into Friday’s home game against Tuscarora.
The Titans avoided a three-game losing streak last week with a 41-28 home win over Thomas Johnson, which was playing without its top playmaker, Kahari Kilgore, who was serving a one-game suspension for fighting. After Urbana’s Gray, Tuscarora senior quarterback Spencer Mott has had as good a two-game stretch as anyone. A week after completing 23 of 36 passes for 386 yards and two touchdowns in the loss to the Hawks, Mott completed 14 of 22 for 282 yards and four touchdowns to lead Tuscarora past TJ.
The Patriots will play at Middletown (4-3) this week. Both teams need a win to prop up their fading playoff hopes.
Catoctin, meanwhile, has revived its slim chance of reaching the postseason with three straight wins. After starting the season 0-4, the Cougars have responded with wins over Poolesville, Williamsport and North Hagerstown. With winnable games remaining against Boonsboro (on the road), Smithsburg (home) and Brunswick (home), Catoctin has a reasonable shot at finishing 6-4, which will put it in the middle of the playoff conversation in the 2A West. It would be an amazing turnaround.
Elsewhere, Oakdale got back on track with a 42-6 win at slumping Frederick. The Bears (5-2) clearly look like the team to beat in the 2A West heading into Friday’s game at Walkersville. Undermanned Brunswick (with only 20 players in uniform) dropped its third straight game with a 19-14 home loss to Poolesville. The Railroaders will need a strong finish with upcoming games against Williamsport (home), North Hagerstown (road) and Catoctin (road) to make the playoffs in the 1A West. St. John’s Catholic Prep (3-5) snapped its four-game losing streak with a 49-8 home win over Concordia, and Maryland School for the Deaf (6-2) won its third straight game, completely dominating Indiana School for the Deaf (7-2) in a 60-0 home win.