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Perry Hall football bounces back from sluggish start to beat Catonsville, 45-14

Perry Hall sophomore quarterback Da’Shaun Conway completed five passes for 172 yards, including 131 in the second half, to lead the Gators to a 45-14 victory over host Catonsville on Thursday night.

Conway, the team’s third-string quarterback, was brought up from junior varsity for the third game of the season and he had to rebound from a rocky start.

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He fumbled on the Gators’ (4-3) first offensive play of the night and Catonsville’s Reggie Byrd recovered it. The second series was a three-and-out.

“It’s high school football. You have to make adjustments and guys have to grow up quick,” Perry Hall coach Luke Ellington said.

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Catonsville (3-4) capitalized on the slow start when it marched 40 yards on four plays, all on runs by freshman Carlito Jones, including a 16-yarder for a score.

Jack Krug added the extra point for a 7-0 lead with 11:50 left in the first half. That’s when Conway and the Gators’ offense shifted into high gear.

A six-play 80-yard drive that included a 41-yard pass from Conway to Corey Jones culminated in a 16-yard touchdown run by Isaiah Armstrong. Antonia Lazzaro’s extra-point tied it at 7 with 9:42 left in the half.

With 2:36 left in the half, a 2-yard run by Armstrong made it 14-7.

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The Comets didn’t score in the first half after the Jones touchdown, but did come close on a missed 43-yard field-goal attempt by Krug.

Jones, the Comets’ leading rusher, was injured on his fifth carry of the game and didn’t return. He joined offensive threats Daniel Heffern and Chris Heffern and starting left tackle Gabe Wallman, who were inactive for the game, along with the team’s leading tackler, defensive back Josh Williams.

“We were banged up in the secondary so we were trying to find guys that can step up and stop the run, but also be back in coverage,” Catonsville coach Jaren Maybin said. “It seemed like when we did stop the run they would throw it over top of us and when we had them covered deep they would run the ball up the middle.”

On the first play of the second half, Conway connected on a 41-yard slant to Gavin Bedford, which led to a 17-yard touchdown run from Ja’kai Jones and a 20-7 Gators lead.

A Catonsville fumble led to a 31-yard touchdown pass from Conway to Bedford, and the lead grew to 26-7 with 8:23 left in the third quarter.

The Comets’ chance for a comeback got a lift when Frank Manalansan went 60 yards for a touchdown on a dive play with 6:48 left in the third quarter that cut the deficit to 12.

“He broke a long one last week and he finished the run this week,” said Maybin, noting he signed to play lacrosse at Frostburg State University. “Frank is an awesome athlete. If he wanted to go to the next level in football he could probably do that too.”

Perry Hall answered with a 34-yard touchdown run jaunt by Dallas Conway, a 40-yard touchdown run from Corey Jones and 52-yard touchdown pass from Da’Shaun Conway to Jayson Wright.

Perry Hall coach Ethington wasn’t surprised his rookie quarterback recovered from the slow start.

“He’s the kind of kid he is really unflappable and he kind of knows what he’s done before you even say it to him, so we just kind of guide him gently,” Ethington said. “Him being young is something we are aware of and we are just confident in him.”

Da’Shaun Conway was confident in his teammates.

“We started off a little sluggish, but we picked it up in the second quarter,” he said. “I just care about the ‘W’ and I’m happy for my team and that’s it.”

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