Before the season, Lansdowne football coach Shaun Murphy was looking forward to the first two games on the schedule because of the school’s proximity to each opponent.
The Vikings lost their opener, 20-14, to Western Tech, which shares Lansdowne’s field for games. But they hoped to even their record against another neighboring foe Catonsville on Friday night.
“It’s never a rivalry,” Murphy said 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.”
But the Comets had the most fun Friday night in the Ravens RISE High School Football Showdown, as Catonsville rolled to a 29-16 victory and improved to 1-1 this season.
Both defenses had stops in the first quarter, as the Vikings forced an opening-drive punt after a three-and-out possession.
After Lansdowne’s Jerald Hurt broke several tackles on a 16-yard punt return that he brought back to the 50-yard line, the Vikings drove 34 yards in seven plays, with Hurt gaining 15 yards and freshman Jerel Simpkins 6. But on fourth-and-3 from the 15, Hurt was tackled for a 3-yard loss on a sweep by Jermaine Sykes.
“That stop was huge for us,” coach Rich 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 27-yard run by Dallas Evans and an 18-yard slant pass from Davonta Holland to Sam Liberto.
The Comets also were aided by an offside penalty on a missed field-goal attempt that moved Sybert’s kick 5 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.
Holland soon connected with Javon Williams on a 13-yard scoring strike with 13.6 seconds left in the quarter, and Sybert’s extra point pushed the lead to 10-0.
Lansdowne’s next series ended after three plays when Evans recovered another fumble.
The Vikings’ Marcus Sessoms sacked Holland for an 11-yard loss on first down and Peyton Collins intercepted his next pass, but the turnover was overturned because of a roughing-the-passer penalty. Three plays later, another Lansdowne interception was taken away because of a penalty.
When Catonsville running back Mike Robinson scored from 3 yards out, led by the blocking of right tackle Brandon Betters, 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 57 yards down the sideline for a Catonsville touchdown. Sybert’s extra point gave the Comets a 23-0 halftime lead.
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.”
The Vikings’ offense came alive early in the third quarter. Hurt scored on a 34-yard touchdown run and scored the 2-point conversion, making it 23-8 with 10:06 left in the period.
“He 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 of Hurt.
Holland, who completed 15 of 33 passes for 166 yards in his first varsity start for the Comets, a 24-8 loss to Sparrows Point, connected on a 50-yard pass to Williams on the next possession, but the drive ended with a missed 29-yard field-goal attempt.
Against Lansdowne, Holland completed 10 of 19 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns.
“He really played a great game,” Hambor said. “He’s really starting to click with this offense.”
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, with the final 3-yard toss 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 2-point conversion, the final score of the game with 3:51 left.
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)