Turnovers and penalties might have derailed Catonsville football’s offense in the first half, but the Comets recovered with 27 second-half points in a 34-0 victory at Towson to remain unbeaten.
The Comets defense was dominant all game, allowing just 67 total yards and three first downs.
Catonsville’s running game, featuring 11 players who carried the ball, ran for 288 yards.
But it was a 38-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Sean Ryan to Jayvon Brown that broke a scoreless tie after Catonsville’s first two possessions ended in an interception by Towson’s Khyri Dorsey and fumble recovery by Luke Ducharme.
Dorsey returned the interception 38 yards, but the Towson drive ended in a 43-yard missed field-goal attempt by Diego Luis.
That was the closest the Generals (0-3) would come to scoring against a defense that allowed just one first down and 11 yards in the first half.
Comets senior defensive back Josh Williams set the tone with six tackles in the first half.
“We are very confident in what Josh Williams can do in the pass game and the run game defensively,” Catonsville coach Jaren Maybin said. “He is 100% sure that he is going to make the tackle if it comes his way. He is going to do his job and make the tackle most of the time for a loss.”
While two illegal blocks nullified two long punt returns by Brown in the first half, the Comets (3-0) did get a big special teams play when James Azbill blocked a punt.
The game was scoreless when the Comets took over with 10:24 left in the first half and went on a 70-yard scoring drive. Anthony Fliggins had an 11-yard run and Ryan connected with Fliggins on a 15-yard pass during the drive.
The march appeared to stall when Ducharme and Jackson Gister stopped Carlito Brown for a 2-yard loss on second down. A mishandled snap cost the Comets 6 yards on third down, setting up a fourth-and-13.
That’s when Ryan lofted a deep pass down the sideline that nicked the fingers of Dorsey and was hauled in by Brown for a touchdown with 5:14 left in the half. Jack Krug kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
“He made his second or third big play offensively, but he has been dynamite for us on special teams,” said Maybin, who watched Brown return the opening kickoff for a touchdown last week in the Comets’ 50-0 win over Dulaney. “He is a big-play threat whenever he’s got the ball, so we try to make sure that we get him the ball as much as possible.”
Towson kicked away from Brown in the beginning of the second half, but Fliggins made them pay with an electrifying 78-yard run that included four changes of direction. Three plays later, Keron Pearson scored from the 10 to push the lead to 13-0.
Offensive coordinator John Youngberg turned much of the workload over to freshman back Jones and senior Damon Chase, and they delivered rushing touchdowns in the second half. Jones gained 80 of his game-high 101 rushing yards and Chase had 78 of his 83 yards after halftime.
“I talked to coach Youngberg in the middle of the third quarter and I said we are very fortunate to rotate a good group of backs,” Maybin said. “Every single one of our backs played a dynamite game today and they also help us out in special teams.”
Daniel Heffern scored on a 21-yard run for the Comets’ other touchdown.
Chase’s grinding 14-yard touchdown run in the second half came one possession after he was throwing up on the sideline.
“This is like the hottest game we’ve ever played on a Saturday,” said Chase, who was happy to see his team regroup despite the heat and turnovers. “We just locked in and came back and came together. We are more focused and we are ready to grind now.”
Maybin was proud of the way his team overcame the first-half mistakes.
“We didn’t really stick to the game plan because of the penalties and the turnovers, but we got it figured out at halftime and we cut out all those penalties and turnovers and we were able to put up 27 points,” he said.
Towson’s biggest play of the game was a 42-yard second-half run by Reese Stevenson (10 carries, 58 yards). The Comets defense stiffened with a sack by Jeremiah Turner on the next play, a forced incompletion and a tackle by Brown for no gain on a pass from quarterback Nick Dance to Shamar Molock.
Another incompletion ended the drive at the Comets’ 37.
Chase’s touchdown run made it 27-0 with 4:30 left. Jones capped the scoring with a 23-yard touchdown run.
Catonsville finished with 341 total yards behind an offensive line that started center Eli Beyer, guards Shawn Traynham and Jaylen Henderson and tackles Gabe Wallman and Selbe Solomon. That allowed the Comets to rotate multiple backs, which proved critical on the hot day.
“You’ve got a bunch of guys that you can rotate in the game and we are 100% confident that there is not a real drop-off between any of those guys,” Maybin said.
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Catonsville will put its undefeated record on the line Friday when it hosts Parkville (1-2) at 6 p.m.