Pan­thers jump out to big lead, hold on for nar­row win

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL SPORTS - By MATT HICKS

BEL AIR

Spe­cial to the Whig

— Af­ter begin­ning the sea­son with three-straight losses for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year, Per­ryville en­tered Fri­day night search­ing for a much needed vic­tory.

A first-half scor­ing bar­rage proved to be enough for the Pan­thers as they held on for a 21-19 win over host Har­ford Tech in Susque­hanna Di­vi­sion foot­ball ac­tion.

Af­ter jump­ing out to a 21-17 half­time lead, Per­ryville (1-3 over­all, 1-0 di­vi­sion) watched its lead dwin­dle in the sec­ond half. A blocked ex­tra point kept the lead at 8 as the Co­bras pulled within one score when David Cromwell found the end zone on a 34-yard touch­down run to open the third quar­ter.

The Pan­thers de­fense stepped up on the next three pos­ses­sions. A punt, an in­ter­cep­tion by ju­nior safety Billy Boyer and a fum­ble re­cov­ery kept the Pan­thers in con­trol.

“That’s huge. The key is to get them third-and-long and get them off the field in those sit­u­a­tions,” Per­ryville head coach Chris John­son said. “I told the kids all week, don’t fall asleep on Har­ford Tech.”

Boyer’s de­fen­sive take­away pre­vented a 34-yard pass in Per­ryville ter­ri­tory.

“At first I got burnt, and then the ball was thrown short,” Boyer said when asked about the key in­ter­cep­tion. “I was able to make a play on the ball.”

Fol­low­ing a 61-yard touch­down run by the Co­bras’ Noah Long late in the third quar­ter, a 2-point con­ver­sion was dis­al­lowed due to an il­le­gal shift. The Pan­thers then made a cru­cial stop on the re-try to hold their two-point ad­van­tage.

“I’m thank­ful that we were for­tu­nate enough to have a penalty down there on the 2-point con­ver­sion,” John­son said. “We didn’t cover the re­ceiver on the left, we got lucky, and changed our de­fense af­ter that.”

Per­ryville se­nior quar­ter­back Do­minic Gugliotta found Boyer for 30 yards on a key third-and-18 pass with 2:46 re­main­ing which al­lowed the Pan­thers to run out the clock.

“I told coach just like I tell Dom [Gugliotta] be­fore ev­ery game: Trust me, I came here for a rea­son.” Boyer said. “Last year I didn’t re­ally get any­thing. When I say trust me, trust me. He threw it and I just caught it.”

John­son had no prob­lem trust­ing his two play­mak­ers.

“I give Dom a lot of credit, and Billy thought he could get the ball on that play,” John­son said of the key con­ver­sion. “On third-and-18 we took a shot in­stead of run­ning the clock and punt­ing. He [Gugliotta] made a hell of a throw and Billy made a hell of a catch”

Boyer torched the Co­bras de­fense, as he tal­lied three catches for 112 yards, in­clud­ing two scores.

“I think peo­ple are gonna start keep­ing tabs on him,” John­son said of Boyer. “He is a re­ally good re­ceiver and a good ath­lete as I knew he would be. Dom is gain­ing con­fi­dence and look­ing his way more. In fact, I get frus­trated when Dom isn’t look­ing his way be­cause I know Billy will make a play.”

The Pan­thers of­fense was able to cash in on de­fen­sive stops dur­ing the first half.

Gugliotta found Boyer twice in the sec­ond quar­ter fol­low­ing turnover-on-downs. They hooked up for a 25-yard touch­down through the air on a fourth down, and later a 57-yard touch­down pass gave the Pan­thers a 12-0 early lead. On both oc­ca­sions, the Pan­thers were un­able to tack on an ex­tra point.

Pan­thers cor­ner­back Timmy Clark then forced an­other turnover-on-downs as he broke up a pass. The next play, ju­nior run­ning back Caleb Robin­son scam­pered for a 59-yard score that pushed the Pan­thers’ lead to 18-0 late in the first half. An­other un­suc­cess­ful 2-pointer fol­lowed.

Per­ryville cap­i­tal­ized on 75-per­cent of its de­fen­sive stands, which in­cluded a fum­ble re­cov­ery on the Co­bras’ first pos­ses­sion. Kicker Zach Strong capped the first-half scor­ing, an­swer­ing an 11-yard touch­down pass by Har­ford Tech with a 22-yard field goal.

“I told th­ese kids they can be a good team,” John­son said af­ter the win. “We just have to con­tinue to im­prove ev­ery week. We took an­other step in that di­rec­tion tonight.”

The Co­bras fall to 2-2 over­all and 0-1 in the lower di­vi­sion.

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