There are two distinct ways to look at last Friday’s epic Linganore-Oakdale game.
On one hand, you can ask how Oakdale blew it. The Bears were clearly the better team for three quarters. They had a 13-point lead and numerous chances to add to it. They simply couldn’t deliver the knockout blow. Turnovers, penalties and a missed extra point ultimately conspired to doom the Bears in a crushing, 21-20 loss. The real killers were the three lost fumbles deep in Linganore territory. Had any of those drives been cashed in for points, Oakdale would have almost certainly won. The Bears kept leaving the door ajar, and it ultimately cost them.
On the other hand, you have to give Linganore a tremendous amount of credit for making every play it needed to make down the stretch to win the game. Senior quarterback Nathaniel Musselman delivered another gutsy, big-game performance, scoring on a dive-for-the-pylon 2-yard run in the fourth quarter and delivering good passes on the game-winning touchdown and 2-point conversion. Senior receiver and defensive back Wade Stieren was also terrific, forcing turnovers and making some big plays on offense, including getting open and pulling in the game-winning 2-point conversion pass. The game was eerily reminiscent of Linganore’s playoff loss for the ages last November at Damascus, particularly the way the Lancers stormed back in the final quarter. This time, however, the outcome went the their way.
Now, the questions surround how these teams will respond to such a dramatic game. Linganore (6-0), the lone unbeaten team in Frederick County, is finished with the tough part of its schedule. The Lancers will be heavily favored to win its final four games, starting with this Friday’s home game against Wootton, and finish the regular season with a perfect record for the second consecutive season.
Oakdale (5-1), on the other hand, faces a tough game at Walkersville, which is also 5-1. What state of mind are the Bears in right now after such a gutting loss? How easily will they be able to move past it? Another loss would be damaging to their playoff hopes in an ultra-competitive region, the Class 3A West.
That’s would made Tuscarora’s 32-20 home loss to South Hagerstown so devastating. The Titans are now 4-2 after blowing a 14-point lead to a regional rival. Now getting into the 3A West playoffs will be a formidable task for the Titans, particularly since they are only playing nine games after having one canceled by the weather. Tuscarora is aiming for its third win over Urbana (2-4) this week. It’s the first of three straight road games for the Titans before they come home to host Oakdale in Week 10 in what could be a playoff-elimination game.
Elsewhere, pretty much everything else held to form in Week 6. Middletown (3-3) routed Brunswick (0-6), Walkersville blanked Catoctin (3-3), Thomas Johnson (3-3) snapped a two-game losing streak with a home win over Digital Harbor, St. John’s Catholic Prep (5-0-1) took control of the MIAA C Conference with a home win over Annapolis Christian, and MSD (6-1) rolled to a homecoming win Saturday over the Northern Virginia Kings.
Urbana, meanwhile, suffered a 9-7 loss at Clarksburg, and Frederick (1-5) was routed out in Western Maryland by Allegany.