When you spot a Top 10 team 21 points in a game, you can pretty much write off any chance of leaving with a win. The Perry Hall Gators did just that Friday, falling short against 10th-ranked Franklin, 35-26, in a battle for first in the Baltimore County 3A/4A league.
The Indians (7-0 overall, 4-0 3A/4A) used all their weapons in their first quarter scoring, opening the game with an 85-yard interception return for touchdown by junior Ian Thomas and senior Mark Venable rushing for a score. Venable linked up with senior Navassa Brown on a 69-yard pass as Franklin explode to 21-0 lead.
If that wasn’t enough momentum for the Indians, they came back to open the second quarter with a tipped punt and field position on the 42-yard-line. That’s where the Gators (5-2, 3-1 3A/4A) put their foot down.
Junior Troy Poole wrapped his hands around a tipped Franklin pass and returned it 60 yards for Perry Hall’s first score, sparking three unanswered touchdowns to bring the Gators to within two-points of the Indians, 21-19.
“I thought they did a tremendous job,” Franklin coach Anthony Burgos said. “We have been talking about it all week, about being prepared and being tested, and I think Perry Hall did a great job fighting for four quarters.
Our guys did the same thing; fought for four quarters and were fortunate enough to get the win.”
Perry Hall senior Robin Paguia and junior Pat Clemons each busted through the Franklin goal line once in the second and third quarter, respectively. Following a Brown rushing touchdown for Franklin to post a 28-19 lead, Clemons punched another touchdown in for the Gators, bringing the hosts to within, 28-26, in the third, after kicking the extra point.
“We played well and tough after the first quarter,” Perry Hall coach Keith Robinson said. “We spotted a great team 21 points, and it turned out to be too big of a deficit to recover from. We did come back, but they just made more big plays at the end of the game.
“On the last score, I didn’t want to chase points,” Robinson said about opting to kick for the extra point instead attempting a two-point conversion. “I thought our success on the ground would allow us another chance score.”
The Gators were two for three on point-after kicks, but also were unable to convert on a fake extra-point in the third quarter.
Franklin’s defense ended up to be too much for Perry Hall in the end, holding the Gators scoreless on three possessions after their third quarter score. The Indians put the nail in the coffin when Thomas took a fourth quarter punt off a bounce, avoiding a couple of Perry Hall defenders and raced 40 yards to the end zone with just 3 minutes, 30 seconds to play.
“The defense had a pretty good go at it,” said Thomas, who had 112 yards receiving. “We weren’t wrapping up like we wanted to, but that’s football.”
Clemons, a transfer from Calvert Hall College, ended the night with 153 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
“He has been a monster for us all year,” Robinson said. “He is everything you want for a tailback. He is tough, has great vision and never quits on a play.”
Indians senior quarterback Joey Dorsey went 10 for 15 for 134 yards with Venable adding 73 yards off two passes that accounted for the only passing touchdown.
“They are a great team,” Robinson said. “They are well coached, they made adjustments to what we were doing, but I’d like to play that first quarter over.”
Perry Hall look to rebound against Dulaney next weekend. The Gators are currently third in the Class 4A state North Region standings. The top four teams in each region advance to the state tournament.
“We just told the team that it looks like 8-2 will definitely get us in, and 7-3 will probably get us into the playoffs,” Robinson repeated. “We told them we need to be 8-2, so we are going after 8-2 now.”
Franklin’s win sets up a showdown next with No. 7 Hereford next weekend for sole possession of first in the 3A/4A division as well as positioning in the 3A North Region standings.
“Our focus has to be the same,” Burgos said, “Monday through Friday we have to grind out in practice. This is a great win and we will enjoy it tonight, but come tomorrow morning we have to get back to work and try to go 1-0 every game.”
(click on the related videos link at the top of the page to see video highlights and interviews)
|No. 10 Franklin 35, Perry Hall 26|
|F-Thomas 85 interception return (Gibson kick)|
|F-Venable 23 run (Gibson kick)|
|F-Brown 69 pass from Venable (Gibson kick)|
|PH-Poole 60 interception return (McQuay kick)|
|PH-Paguia 15 run (kick failed)|
|PH-Clemons 10 run (run failed)|
|F-Brown 35 run (Gibson kick)|
|PH-Clemons 13 run (McQuay kick)|
|F-Thomas 40 punt return (Gibson kick)|