Before the season, Lansdowne High head coach Shaun Murphy was looking forward to his first two opponents because of his school’s proximity to each of them.
The Vikings lost their home opener to Western Tech, 20-14, who shares Lansdowne’s field for games, but they hoped to even their record against another neighboring foe at Catonsville High on Friday night.
“It’s never a rivalry, said Murphy before the season. “It’s just fun. I always call it our backyard games. “For all these kids, it’s playing your backyard friends. All these kids have played each other in rec leagues.”
The Comets had the most fun Friday night in the Ravens RISE High School Football Game of the Week as Catonsville rolled to a 29-16 victory and they evened their record at 1-1.
Both defenses had stops in the first quarter as the Vikings forced a punt on the first series after three plays.
Lansdowne’s Jerald Hurt broke several tackles on a 16-yard punt return that he brought back to the 50-yard line.
Lansdowne’s offense drove 34 yards in seven plays, with Hurt gaining 15 yards and freshman Jerel Simpkins gaining six, but on fourth and three from the 15, Hurt was tackled for a 3-yard loss on a sweep by Jermaine Sykes.
“That stop was huge for us,” Hambor said.
Catonsville responded with a 61-yard drive that was capped by Andrew Sybert’s 33-yard field goal late in the first quarter, giving the Comets a 3-0 lead.
It was his first career field goal.
“That was great,” Hambor said. “That’s a good feeling getting him more confidence.”
Key plays during the drive were a 28-yard run by Dallas Evans and an 18-yard slant pass from Davonta Holland to Sam Liberto.
The Comets were also aided by an offsides penalty on a missed field goal attempt that moved the kick five yards closer.
That was the first of several miscues and penalties that led to the Vikings’ first-half demise.
Two plays after the field goal, Catonsville’s Jorge Urizar forced a fumble that was recovered by teammate Logan Mitchell.
Two plays after Catonsville’s Mike Robinson (5 carries, 49 yards) ran for 10 yards, Holland connected with Javon Williams on a 13-yard scoring strike with 13.6 seconds left.
Sybert’s extra-point pushed the lead to 10-0.
Lansdowne’s next series ended after three plays when Evans recovered a fumble.
Lansdowne’s Marcus Sessoms sacked Holland for an 11-yard loss on first down and Peyton Collins intercepted the next pass, but it was overturned because of a roughing the passer penalty.
Three plays later, another Lansdowne interception was taken away because of a penalty.
Catonsville running back Robinson scored behind the block of right tackle Brandon Betters from three yards out and the Comets led 16-0 with 7:45 left in the first half.
Lansdowne drove 39 yards on its last possession of the half, but with 13 seconds left, quarterback Brandon Burnopp’s dump-off pass was intercepted by Nelson Williams, who raced down the sidelines 57 yards for a touchdown.
Sybert’s extra point gave the Comets a 23-0 halftime lead.
“He [Williams] had some speed there and great footwork to keep away from those guys and stay inbounds,” Hambor said. “That was definitely a dagger for them, but, nonetheless, they came down in the third quarter and scored, but that play before halftime put us in a good place.”
Lansdowne’s offense came alive early in the third quarter.
Hurt scored on a 34-yard touchdown run and ran in the two-point conversion, making it 23-8 with 10:06 left in the quarter.
“He [Hurt] is their player and he wants the ball in his hands as all good players do and he is going to get his yards and we’ve just got to limit that,” Hambor said.
Catonsville’s quarterback Holland, who completed 15 of 33 passes for 166 yards in his first varsity start, a 24-8 loss to Sparrows Point, connected on a 50-yard pass to Williams on the next possession, but the drive ended in a missed field goal from 29 yards out.
Against Lansdowne, Holland completed 10 of 19 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns.
“He really played a great game,” Catonsville Hambor said. “He’s really starting to click with this offense.”
Javon Williams had three catches for 81 yards and Liberto had five for 49.
After Lansdowne’s next drive stalled, Catonsville went on a 40-yard scoring drive, sparked by a 15-yard pass from Holland to Evans and back-to-back strikes to Sam Liberto for eight and three yards, with the final toss scoring a touchdown and giving the Comets a 29-8 lead.
Lansdowne scored on a 37-yard pass from Burnopp to Phebus Floyd and Hurt ran in for the two-point conversion for the final points of the game with 3:51 left.
Lansdowne 0 0-8-8—16
Cat. Sybert 33-yard field goal
Cat. Holland 13-yard pass to Javon Williams (Sybert kick)
Cat. Robinson 3-yard run (kick failed)
Cat. Nelson Williams 57-yard int. return (Sybert kick)
Lans. Hurt 34-yard run (Hurt run)
Cat. Holland 3-yard pass to Liberto (kick failed)
Lans. Burnopp 37-pass to Floyd (Hurt run)