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Apr. 17—URBANA — Middletown senior Conner Meyer is known for his defense, and the linebacker’s performance in Friday’s game did nothing to diminish that reputation.

But there he was in the second quarter, a wide-open receiver with no one between him and the end zone, waiting eagerly and a little anxiously for a pass quarterback Gage Queen had just lofted.

“We’ve been running the play for the whole season, and I never even thought we would have it called in the game,” said Meyer, who had yet to have a TD catch this season as that throw reached his hands. “And we called it.”

Why not? This wasn’t the time to hold back. It was Middletown’s final game. Rival Walkersville was the opponent, a very difficult one at that. And a Frederick County title — the only title available for the Knights to win in this pandemic-shortened season — was on the line.

Telling himself not to drop the ball, Meyer caught it and ran untouched the rest of the way to complete the 43-yard touchdown pass.

That game-tying reception was one of several big plays, on offense and defense, that helped the Knights pull out a hard-fought 20-13 win over the Lions in the Frederick County Public Schools championship game at Urbana High School.

For the second straight season, Middletown (5-1) won its final game. Granted, this finale wasn’t a state championship game, like it was in 2019, because the MPSSAA didn’t have such a game due to the coronavirus pandemic-shortened season.

But for veterans like Meyer, who played a prominent role in Middletown’s state-title run during his junior season, winning a county title was special in its own right.

“It’s not a state title, but I mean, it’s the second-best thing,” said Meyer, who has been a starting linebacker for two years. “The best two years of my life. I can’t even explain my excitement right now.”

This win came one week after the Knights beat Walkersville 21-7. Unlike that game, when the Lions’ lone TD came on a blocked punt, Middletown’s vaunted defense wasn’t able to keep Walkersville’s offense from scoring.

But the Knights did hold the Lions scoreless in the second half, and they managed a crucial stop on fourth-and-1 from Walkersville’s 40 with 9:11 left.

A fired-up Queen, a free safety, bolted off the field briefly after that play, which gave the Knights possession on Walkersville’s 40 and helped them maintain their 20-13 lead.

“I don’t know who hit him first,” Queen said. “But I saw him kind of get hung up, and I came in and just pushed the pile back, and I knew he didn’t get it, and I knew that was it.”

Middletown tackle Zach Brady was one of several defenders who was in on that play.

“Our linebacker came up and made a great play, I scraped up down the line with a gang of us,” Brady said. “We’re always running to the ball, flying to the ball, and we just came up and made a big play when we needed to.”

Early on, Middletown had trouble containing Walkersville running back Naseem Pacheco. In the first half, Pacheco had touchdown runs of 10 and 39 yards and gained 171 yards on 22 carries. But the Knights held him to 22 yards on seven carries in the second half.

Middletown took advantage of Walkersville mistakes, including a fumbled punt with 1:24 left in the third quarter. Taking over the Lions 34, Queen used his legs to engineer a go-ahead drive.

Faking a handoff to Kadin Fisher, Queen raced to the left side of the end zone and was never touched as he scored on a 10-yard run to give the Knights a 20-13 lead with 11:03 left in the fourth quarter.

“When I faked the ball to Kadin, he drew the entire defense,” Queen said. “He had one hell of a fake, he acted like he had the ball. I had a clear run to the end zone.”

“Guys up front blocked great, and Kadin Fisher ran the ball like a fierce young man all night long — all year long, but especially all night long,” Middletown coach Collin Delauter said. “And that was a big key on that play being successful.”

Matthew Mancini scored Middletown’s first touchdown on a 26-yard run, which tied the game at 6 with 2:18 left in the first quarter.

On the game’s first drive, Walkersville’s offense showed marked improvement against Middletown’s stingy defense, which hadn’t given up a score since facing Linganore in Week 2.

“We made some good adjustments, we blocked better, we ran better, we did a lot of things better,” Lions coach Joe Polce said. “Just give them credit, they just made one more play than we did.”

Walkersville finishes with a 4-2 record.

“We came up a little short tonight, but our kids came a long way from that first day of practice to right here, our team improved so much,” Polce said. “I’m just so proud of our guys and all the things that we had to fight to overcome to get to this point.”

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