Loch Raven combined a strong running game with timely long passes and sprinkled in solid first-half defense on the way to spoiling Catonsville’s senior night with a 28-8 victory on Thursday night.
The Raiders (6-1) did all of their damage in the first half when they scored four touchdowns and built a 28-0 lead.
Senior running back Far’d Myles did most of the heavy lifting on the ground in the first half when he gained 98 of his 168 yards rushing, but he didn’t get in the end zone.
That honor went to Aaron Phillip who scored from five yards out on his only carry of the night with 5:44 left in the first quarter.
Evan Welsh kicked first of his four extra points for a 7-0 lead.
A 48-yard punt return by Branden Taylor, set up Taylor to run five yards to the one and fumbled into the end zone, but his teammate, Mickell Foster, recovered it and the lead was 14-0 late in the first quarter.
The running game racked up 114 of its 191 rushing yards in the first half behind a line that included tackles Foster and Narayana Engelskirch, guards Mu’tazz Rashid and Damion Noakes and center Tony Dong.
In the second quarter, the Raiders went to the air and quarterback Kevaungh Citizen connected twice for touchdowns of 43 and 34 yards to wideout Mo Elsamadisi.
On the first score, Citizen scrambled to his left and connected with Elsamadisi down the sideline.
“Me and my quarterback really worked hard in the off-season, we used to got down to Towson High School and we just practiced what we do on the field,” Elsamadisi said.
On the second score, Elsamadisi went high for the ball over his defender.
“My quarterback took advantage of me and threw it up because I’m 6-2,” Elsamadisi said.
Loch Raven coach Chris Armstrong saw his receiver’s strength early on.
“We have a really good running back in Far’d Myles and when you have a quarterback that is playing like Kevaughn right now and Mo is just doing what I’ve been telling everybody he was going to do all season,” Armstrong said. “He’s 6-2, he’s 195 pounds, you’ve got to get him the ball.”
Catonsville was an entirely different squad in the second half and had chances to cut in the lead.
Despite a 25-yard completion to Elsamadisi (four receptions, 118 yards) that moved the ball into Comets’ territory on the Raiders first possession of the second half, a tackle for a 2-yard loss on second down by senior Mateen Kareem and fourth-down pressure by James Azbil, that forced an incompletion on fourth, ended the drive.
Two plays later running back Damon Chase broke free for a 60-yard run, but Loch Raven’s Greg Coleman came from behind and punched the ball free and it was recovered in the end zone by Jeffrey Santos.
“I told him that same thing happened to Ed Reed and it happens to us, that was a helluva play by that kid,” Catonsville coach Jaren Maybin said. “If the ball rolls a different way, we score and it’s a different game.”
Loch Raven’s next drive ended in a punt after a quality tackle by Josh Williams on a third-down middle screen.
A 20-yard punt return by Anthony Fliggins set up a short field and three plays later, Ricky Sears scored on a shifty 15-yard run, but the touchdown was nullified by a holding penalty.
An interception by Santos two plays later ended that drive.
It was one of four turnovers on the night for the Comets.
“It’s hard to come back when you turn the ball over,”Maybin said.
The Comets did get a score with under seven minutes left when Fliggins (17 carries, 81 yards) spun in from two yards out and Sears turned a high snap into a two-point conversion.
Catonsville gained 141 yards in the second half, after gaining just 65 in the first.
“It was an adjustment that coach (John) Youngberg came up with on the offensive line,” Maybin said. “They played us a little different then we expected.”
While Loch Raven is the top seed in the Class 1A South Region, Catonsville came into the game as the fourth seed in the Class 4A North as they seek a playoff berth ifter winning one game in Maybin’s inaugural season as head coach last year.
“They are not going to lay down,” Armstrong said. “I love what he is doing with Catonsville, they are a totally different team from last year and I think they’ve just got to stay with it and give him an opportunity and he is going to turn that thing around.”
Maybin praised his seniors that included four-year players Zack Einoff, Parker Doula, Dashawn Dixon, Steven Johnson Jr., Evan Rogers, Michael Bowers, Brandon Hull and Mateen Kareem, three-year players Marciss Lawson and Jamie Taylor, two-year Comet Camerian Duncan and first-year senior Rameez Howard.
“They are a bunch of good guys and I feel closer to this senior class then I did last year just because I got here so late,” Maybin said. “They are a bunch of guys who have been in the program for four years that have weathered two years of losing.”
They want to make a lasting impact on the younger players this year and beyond.
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“They came back and fought and they came together a lot collectively after fall camp and they said they want to be the senior class that really starts to turn around the Catonsville football team and they’ve played like that throughout the season,” Maybin said.