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Big kickoff return sparks Hereford to 42-6 football victory over host Catonsville

Catonsville cut Hereford’s lead to eight points with 1:27 left in the first half after a 1-yard touchdown run by Jacob Diluca, and Bulls’ senior Emmanuel Obu knew his team needed a lift Friday evening.

But, when he bobbled the ensuing kickoff and recovered it at the 4-yard line, things didn’t look promising — until he switched fields and found a seam all the way to the end zone for a 96-yard return.

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Hereford scored 21 points in the second half behind a bruising running game and cruised to a 42-6 victory.

“When I fumbled the ball I knew that they were going to be scrambling trying to try and get me back deep. So, I kind of just waited and I saw the opening on the left side and they overcommitted to the right side because that is where I fumbled the ball and I just took it to the hole,” Obu said. “I think they were getting a lot of momentum off their touchdown and I definitely felt we needed to shift the momentum back. My teammates did a great job blocking on that kick return and I only had to break one tackle.”

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Hereford (4-1) had built its 14-0 lead on a 10-yard touchdown run by Austin Clarke and 30-yard TD scamper by senior quarterback Chris Peddicord in the first quarter.

But the Comets stayed close thanks to two fumble recoveries and a fourth-and-2 stop by Adrian Cummings and Jaiden Sullivan on Hereford’s own 29 and another fourth-and-2 stop by Frank Manalansan III.

The Comets took over after that on Hereford’s 29 and went to the air.

A quick strike from quarterback Diluca to Christian Heffern gained 11-yards on first down and another connection with Heffern netted 14 down to the Hereford 12.

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Another pass to Heffern gained nine and Diluca punched it in two plays later.

“We went into the game understanding that they were going to play us man the whole time and force us to throw it,” Catonsville coach Jaren Maybin said. “If we were able to throw the ball we could be successful and we could move the ball and we could score some points with those guys and we saw the result of that for a little while there.”

Hereford coach John Walter praised the Comets (1-4) considering their only win was a forfeit.

“I give them a lot of credit because they could have easily just said ‘Hey, we’re going to just hang our heads’ and they came out here ready to play,” Walter said. “The score definitely wasn’t any indication of the game.”

Defensively, Hereford rode seniors Josh Snyder, Oliver Morgan and Gino Pasano (fumble recovery).

In the second half, the Bulls went to the running game behind the line that included center Braun Lippe, guards Morgan and Dustin Krotee and tackles Noah Rebstad and Trace Childs.

Scoring in the second half for Hereford came on a 10-yard TD run by Clarke, 10-yard interception return by Ben Pfitzinger and 42-yard option run by sophomore quarterback Grayson Ayres.

The only suspense in the waning moments was whether Catonsville senior lineman Adrian Cummings would get a carry from the backfield and he did on the game’s final play and he rushed for 6 yards.

“He’s been bugging me all the last week of practice about getting one carry and we were able to squeak it out with two seconds, so I’m happy about that,” said Maybin, who praised his team’s effort. “I thought we played a heck of a game in that first half.”

Hereford’s Walter was also proud of his squad, especially the seniors.

“Our kids are in good shape and we had a hell of a senior class, so we have about 15 seniors and they are really good,” Walter said. “We called this our senior season. We have so many quality seniors and that is what we labeled it.”

Maybin also praised his seniors on senior night and is looking forward to the future.

“Obviously, I want to win the game, but the difference between week one to week five or six is tremendous,” Maybin said. “I’m really proud of these dudes and I’m excited because we’ve got a lot of young guys.”

One of the young standouts was defensive back Josh Williams.

“Josh Williams is really good,” Maybin said. “He is for sure our leading tackler, if they run to his side he is shutting it down, he’s a heck of a football player.”

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