Pan­thers de­fense shines in come­back win

Cecil Whig - - HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL - Special to the Whig

NORTH EAST — It took some time, but the Per­ryville Pan­thers made Ris­ing Sun feel like home.

Af­ter fall­ing be­hind early, Perr yville scored 21 unan­swered points and hung on for a 21-19 non­con­fer­ence football win over Largo on Fri­day night.

Pan­ther fans hap­pily made the trip north through the county to watch their team’s come­back. Per­ryville (2-0) bor­rowed Ris­ing Sun’s field while con­struc­tion con­tin­ues on its new turf field.

While the Pan­thers even­tu­ally wore the op­pop­si­tion down with a pesky run game, the de­fense was the real star. Out­side of two big scor­ing plays, Largo (1-1) amassed just 51 yards of of­fense.

“When they were younger, they might have said, ‘oh no, this is not our day’ but tonight they didn’t panic and they didn’t blink,” Pan­thers head coach Chris John­son said. “They gave up two big plays, but they knew they could get back into it. They just kept fight­ing.”

Per­ryville found it­self in a hole on the very first play of the game when Kaleb Wash­ing­ton picked off quar­ter­back Dayvon Montz’s pass and ran it back 46 yards for a touch­down.

The Li­ons added to their lead late in the first quar­ter when full­back Jayvon John­son bar­reled his way up the mid­dle for a 50-yard touch­down. Af­ter a failed ex­tra point, Largo held a 13-0 ad­van­tage.

The Pan­thers an­swered back with a 14-play, 64-yard drive that saw them con­vert twice on third down and once on a fake punt. Montz punched it in from the 1-yard line, and kicker Bai­ley Ar­mour added the ex­tra point to make it a 13-7 game.

Per­ryville’s Matt Woods snagged an in­ter­cep­tion on Largo’s next drive, but the score stayed 13-7 at half­time.

The Li­ons quickly tired in the sec­ond half, and sev­eral play­ers suf­fered cramps. Per­ryville took full ad­van­tage, scor­ing on two con­sec­u­tive drives for a lead it would not re­lin­quish.

Fac­ing sec­ond-and-long from the Pan­ther 25, run­ning back Caleb Robin­son found a crease at the line of scrim­mage and went off to the races for a 75-yard touch­down.

“To give Caleb credit, they had him tack­led once or twice but he was able to break free and still go the dis­tance,” John­son said. “That re­ally lifted us and af­ter that I think we re­ally got the mo­men­tum.”

Robin­son (13 car­ries, 139 yards, one touch­down) and Timmy Clark (10 car­ries, 88 yards, one touch­down) gob­bled up more yardage on the next drive, and Clark scored on a 10-yard sprint down the left side. He fol­lowed that with an­other run into the end zone for a 2-point con­ver­sion, as the Pan­thers took a 21-13 lead with 11:40 left in the game.

Clark was quick to share credit of his score af­ter the game.

“The only thing on my mind was get­ting in the end zone,” Clark said. “I just trusted in my left side and trusted in my left tackle John Perkins all game. Shout out to him — he’s deal­ing with a lit­tle in­jury right now, but he’ll be al­right.”

Largo had one last trick up its sleeve, as quar­ter­back Jer­maine Flow­ers sur­prised the de­fense with a play-ac­tion, 61-yard touch­down pass to Jalen Etheridge. It was his first com­ple­tion of the game. The Li­ons tried for the tie, but got stuffed just shy of the goal line on their 2-point at­tempt.

“I’ve got to eval­u­ate the film and see ex­actly what went wrong,” Largo head coach Der­ron Thomas said of his play­ers’ strug­gles in the sec­ond half. “I think our kids played hard, but I’m not sure we played right as far as our ex­e­cu­tion. It seemed like con­di­tion­ing be­came a fac­tor.”

Per­ryville drained five min­utes off the clock be­fore turn­ing the ball over on downs, and then the de­fense sur­vived a pass in­ter­fer­ence call (both teams com­mit­ted more than 80 yards worth of penal­ties in the game) and forced a turnover-on-downs of its own with 30 sec­onds left to seal the win.

John­son said the key was con­tain­ing the speed of Flow­ers, whom the Pan­thers sacked twice and held to just 26 yards.

“They’ve got an in­cred­i­bly ath­letic quar­ter­back and they’ve got a back that can scoot,” John­son said. “We scouted them about as well as we could scout some­body, and our goal was to keep them in­side. We talked to our [de­fen­sive] ends — they can’t dip in and they can’t run past the quar­ter­back ei­ther. Those are the two things we ad­dressed and the kids played their hearts out. I’m just re­ally proud to be called their head coach tonight.”

While John­son was happy to see his play­ers earn a vic­tory at “home,” he’s look­ing for­ward to more wins on Per­ryville’s new turf. The field should be fin­ished in time for the Susque­hanna Bowl next Fri­day against arch-ri­val Havre de Grace.

“We’ve got to be pre­pared wher­ever we play and it’s un­for­tu­nate we can’t play at home yet,” he said. “I can’t com­plain, though, be­cause we’re go­ing have a re­ally nice turf field, and I re­ally thank the county for that. I just hope and pray our field is ready next Fri­day when we play Havre de Grace. We’ll wait and see how that goes.”

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY SCOTT SERIO

Per­ryville se­nior run­ning back Caleb Robin­son rushes with the football dur­ing his team’s 21-19 come-from-be­hind non-con­fer­ence vic­tory over Largo at Ris­ing Sun High on Fri­day. With the win, the Pan­thers start the sea­son 2-0.

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