Perryville's dream of a return trip to the Maryland Class 1A state football championship was shattered Friday night by a visiting New Town Titans team that was seeking its first trip to the big game.
Perryville (12-1) turned the ball over three times and was stopped twice late in the game by the Titans defense as the Panthers fell, 28-27, in the 1A semifinal in Perryville.
The Titans (11-2) scored in each quarter to lead three different times, including the final time that put them in the win column.
The Titans final and game-winning points came with 5:53 to play, answering a Perryville touchdown that had the Panthers ahead 27-21, three minutes earlier.
New Town took over at its own 34-yard line and Ka'Sean Coles ripped off 37 yards on first down. A 18-yard run a bit later by Coles set the Titans up first and goal at the Panthers' nine.
Two snaps later, Ryan Marine scored from three yards out and his extra point was the difference.
The Titans defense then stepped up and denied the Panthers twice – the first time at the New Town 10-yard line and the second to seal the game.
Perryville was facing a fourth and three and a fumbled snap by quarterback Cam Cunningham led to a three-yard loss.
New Town took over at its own 13, but was forced to punt the ball back to the Panthers with 1:33 left in the game.
A first down pass from Cunningham to Ethan Griffin covered 12 yards, but the next Perryville pass was intercepted by New Town's Ryan Marine, capping the win after two Titan kneel downs.
The Titans grabbed an 8-0 lead on the game's first possession, with Derrick Kittrell scoring on a 16-yard run. Coles added the two-point conversion on a pitch.
Perryville tied the game on Joe Peaker's six-yard run and his conversion run on the final play of the first quarter. A Griffin interception set up the scoring possession.
New Town then took advantage of a muffed punt by Perryville that led to Kittrell's (21 carries, 103 yards) second touchdown run from eight yards out with 1:32 left in the first half. Perryville return man Griffin signaled for a fair catch, but seemed to misjudge the ball as it went over his head and through his hands. Titan Brian Marine fell on the loose ball.
Perryville closed to within a point, 15-14, on Griffin's 17-yard third quarter touchdown, but another Perryville turnover led to more New Town points.
George Smith's interception turned into points in a matter of seconds when Coles took a short pass from quarterback Shawn Magginson and turned it into a 66-yard touchdown and 21-14 lead.
Peaker (21 carries, 128 yards) scored for Perryville on its next possession to tie the game at 21 all and Griffin added his second score a short time later to set up New Town's late game heroics. That score covered five yards after Peaker had reeled off 17 yards to the Titans five.
Griffin finished with 50 yards on six carries. Cunningham was four for five for 84 yards and Elijah Johnson was two for five for 60 yards. Both quarterbacks threw interceptions.