O-line paves the way for Panthers win over Indians
Special to the Whig
Perryville put its offensive line to the test during the week of practice in preparation for its game against visiting North East.
The offensive line was up to the task as it opened up holes for running back Zac Zacerous and gave quarterback Dom Gugliotta plenty of time in the pocket during the Panthers’ 49-12 victory over the Indians in Susquehanna Division football action on Thursday, keeping their playoff hopes alive.
“We just executed well on offense. It was a tough week of practice. We really focused on getting the big play down the field and working hard. The line did a good job giving me time and Zac big running holes all day,” Gugliotta said. “We pushed them in practice this week. We started out in the no-huddle, and we made a lot of adjustments for them. They showed a lot of perseverance this week. They did a really good job.”
Perryville (3-5 overall, 3-2 division) had four offensive touchdowns of 40 yards or more as it found space to make plays beyond the first level of North East’s defense.
“[The Indians] had a lot of people up near the line of scrimmage. If they penetrate, they have a lot of success, and they did,” Panthers coach Chris Johnson said. “They had some plays where they were able to get into the backfield and make some plays in the backfield. If we were able to seal all that off and get a seam, there is really no layers to the defense. Once we get through, it becomes a big play.”
The Panthers scored first when Gugliotta connected with Ben Savick for an 8-yard touchdown. Perryville then had its first long touchdown on its next possession when Zacerous caught a Gugliotta pass in the flat and raced his way for a 42-yard touchdown to make it 13-0 with 2:49 left in the first.
kick-started Per- ryville’s 28-point second quarter by taking a draw 43 yards for a touchdown to make it 19-0, but North East (0-7, 0-5) responded with a long touchdown of its own when Chase Hollister hit Henry Rivers for a 79-yard touchdown pass.
On the first play of the ensuing possession, Zacerous scored his third touchdown of the game on a 54-yard run to give the Panthers a 26-6 lead. Zacerous said one reason for his three long touch- downs in the first half was due to strong blocking downfield.
“My wide receivers work on blocking all of the time and my wide receivers just blocked for me,” said Zacerous, who finished with 166 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns. “When I got into the open field, they were there for cut-back lanes, and I was able to get touchdowns.”
Perryville added two more touchdowns in the second quarter on a 26-yard interception re- turn for a touchdown by Bailey Armour and a 42-yard touchdown pass from Gugliotta to DJ Johnson. The Panthers capped off the first half scoring by tackling the punter in the end zone for a safety.
Hollister and Rivers connected again on the game’s final play for a 17-yard touchdown for the Indians.
The win keeps the Panthers in playoff contention, but they know they have to continue to improve in order to win their remaining two regular season games.
“The execution was a lot better tonight. There are some things that we need to clean up. I told the team that ‘We can be as good as we want to be. We’ve just got to continue to learn to play a complete football game,’” Johnson said. “We have a bunch of one-game seasons. Next week is another one-game season. We’ve got to beat Joppatowne, and they’re going to be tough.”
Perryville junior Bailey Armour, right, runs with the football during his team’s 49-12 win over visiting North East in Susquehanna Division football action on Thursday.