Paint Branch football edges Perry Hall in Class 4A North Region thriller

Junior Sam Stewart kicked a 20-yard field goal with nine seconds remaining to lift Paint Branch to a pulsating 51-48 victory over Perry Hall in a Class 4A North Region football championship Friday in Burtonsville.

The Panthers (11-1) had trailed, 33-20, at halftime and 26-6 early in the second quarter in a game that featured two teams running the no-huddle offense.

Paint Branch rallied behind the performance of senior quarterback Gaston Cooper, who threw for two touchdowns and 304 yards and also ran for two scores.

The teams combined for 1,018 total yards of offense.

"We just ran out of time," Perry Hall coach Keith Robinson said. "If you give us a couple of minutes, we will score."

Perry Hall senior quarterback Jeff Iweh ran for a score and threw for 265 yards, including touchdown passes to Courtney Johnson and Will King.

Gators junior running back Mike Morris rushed for three touchdowns and 136 yards on 13 carries.

Robinson thinks his 10-2 Gators gained a lot of respect with their performance.

"A lot of people thought we were going to come up here and it was going to be another Montgomery County versus Baltimore blowout like in years past," the coach said. "I am proud of these guys. They gave it everything they had. With two no-huddle teams, our guys were on the field the whole game. There was no quit in this team."

That was especially true in the third quarter when the momentum shifted to Paint Branch, as the Panthers scored 21 unanswered points.

Paint Branch linebacker Jordan Hill returned an interception 68 yards down to the Perry Hall 12 after the ball bounced off of wide receiver Will King on a pass from Iweh on the first drive of the quarter.

Two plays later, Darryl Hill Jr. went five yards up the middle to trim the lead to 33-26.

Sekou Jones recovered an onside kick on the ensuing play on the Perry Hall 43.

Paint Branch scored on Cooper's pass to Javan Grafton in the left corner of the end zone to make it 33-33.

Stewart's extra point gave the Panthers their first lead of the game at 34-33.

Paint Branch extended it lead to 41-33 at the end of the third quarter.

Morris' 4-yard run on 4th-and-1 trimmed the lead to 48-47 with 5:18 remaining. Nick Starostenko's extra point tied it.

The Panthers got the ball back and drove 60 yards before Stewart booted the winning field goal — his second of the year.

"It was a track meet," Paint Branch coach Mike Nesmith said. "I was really proud of my guys. We closed it out and didn't allow them to get the ball back." 





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