Two second-quarter touchdown passes by sophomore quarterback Bryce Johnson was all St. John's Catholic Prep needed to eliminate St. Vincent Pallotti, 14-0, on Saturday in the Maryland interscholastic Athletic Association C Conference championship game at Archbishop Spalding High in Severn.
“We were just out of sync,” said Pallotti coach Rick Peacock. “We are young. For us, it was exciting just to be here. We didn't play our best game. I am not taking anything away from St. John's. I wish we could have given them a better game than we did.”
Pallotti (6-6), looking for its first MIAA C conference title in football since 2004, was plagued by penalties, poor field position and several bad exchanges between senior quarterback Deron Smith and his center.
The Vikings (10-1), of Frederick County, took a 6-0 lead with 5:35 left in the second quarter when junior wideout Trevoe Lecuona caught a 58-yard touchdown pass from Johnson.
Johnson ran for the two-point conversion to give St. John's a 8-0 lead.
Minutes later, Johnson, on fourth and 15 from the Pallotti 35, threw a touchdown pass to Grier Wilson, giving St. John's Prep a 14-0 lead with 21 seconds left in the first half. The two-point conversion failed.
The disappointing afternoon for the Laurel school was symbolized midway through the third quarter when Pallotti’s Devin Jiggetts intercepted a pass on the St. John's 15.
“He tried to do a slant and the quarterback underthrew the ball and it landed in my hands,” Jiggetts said.
But the Panthers offense sputtered, and Smith was sacked on fourth down and the Vikings took over on their own 30.
“Defensively, we stepped it up in the second half. Our offense just had a bad day,” said Jiggetts, also a skill player on offense.
“It stings a lot,” Pallotti senior defensive lineman Rudy Garcia said of the loss.
Panthers' running back Kevin Holmes also fumbled the ball away in St. John's territory in the first quarter and a poor punt helped set up the first scoring drive for the Vikings.
Another highlight for Pallotti was a first-quarter interception by freshman Chase Young on the first play of the second quarter deep in Panthers' territory.
When the teams met in regular season-play, St. John's Catholic Prep won 26-20 in Frederick in late October.
Pallotti bounced back to beat Annapolis Area Christian School 20-14 at Annapolis High on Nov. 1 in its regular-season finale.