Pan­thers foot­ball team falls to Vik­ings in play­off opener

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By KEVIN PHILLIPS

— Per­ryville head coach Chris John­son thought his team had a good chance to win the bat­tle in the trenches dur­ing its 1A East Re­gion semi­fi­nals matchup against host Cam­bridge-South Dorch­ester.

That was not the case as the Pan­thers were un­able to con­trol the ground game and strug­gled to run the ball on of­fense, while on de­fense, they al­lowed the Vik­ings to rush for 213 yards in a 37-7 sea­so­nend­ing de­feat on Fri­day.

“I think they won the line of scrim­mage on both sides of the ball tonight, and I was ac­tu­ally very sur­prised to be hon­est with you. I thought we would dom­i­nate the line of scrim­mage, and we just could not get any­thing go­ing run­ning the foot­ball,” John­son said. “We could not get [full­back] Zac [Zacer­ous] go­ing. Those guys div­ing on the ground. You can pre­pare for it, but un­til you see it live, you don’t know how to pre­pare.”

The Pan­thers had an in­aus­pi­cious start to the game as Cam­bridge-SD ex­e­cuted an on­side kick to be­gin play. Two plays later, Tajh Molock took a hand­off 38 yards for a Vik­ings touch­down, be­fore Tre’ Lake scored on a 2-point con­ver­sion to make it 8-0 just 56 se­conds into the con­test.

Cam­bridge-SD added to its lead in the sec­ond quar­ter with a pair of touch­downs runs by Lake, who scored from nine yards out and one yard out, re­spec­tively, to place Per­ryville in a 22-0 hole late in the sec­ond quar­ter.

Molock scored his sec­ond touch­down of the game just 1:48 into the sec­ond half with a 28-yard run to make it 29-0. The Vik­ings then recored their fi­nal touch­down of the game when Tyler Hard­ing con­nected with Ja­cob Mor­ris for a 20-yard score. Lake then rum­bled into the end zone for the 2-point con­ver­sion.

Molock fin­ished with 121 yards rush­ing on six car­ries, while Lake added 50 yards on the ground for the Vik­ings, who found run­ning room against the Pan­thers’ 5-3 de­fense.

“Cam­bridge tonight was the bet­ter foot­ball team. We knew they had speed, and they did. They had speed. We’ve been very good at set­ting the edge all year long, and not let­ting peo­ple out­side of us,” John­son said. “The prob­lem was we weren’t let­ting him out­side. He was com­ing up off tackle, turn­ing right in the al­ley. In the 5-3, our back­ers should be right there, and they weren’t there all night.”

Per­ryville found the board late in the fourth quar­ter when Dom Gugliotta con­nected with DJ An­der­son for a 30-yard touch­down.

The loss ends the sea­son for the Pan­thers (5-6), but John­son is proud of the way his team bat­tled back from a 2-5 start, in­clud­ing three-straight sea­son-open­ing de­feats, to make the play­offs for the first time since 2013.

“I thought we had the po­ten­tial. You don’t know about po­ten­tial un­til you get there,” John­son said. “What I’m proud about this team is after we lost the heart­breaker to Havre de Grace [in Week 3], we lost the heart­breaker to Bo [Manor in Week 6] and we got killed by Elk­ton [in Week 7], a lot of teams would have packed it in at that point, but we came back with a vengeance.”

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