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Four Harford County football teams open play with wins

Havre de Grace's Gary Gibson and Perryville's Braden Yadlowsky battle for the pass intended for Gibson during Friday night's game at Perryville.
Havre de Grace's Gary Gibson and Perryville's Braden Yadlowsky battle for the pass intended for Gibson during Friday night's game at Perryville. (Matt Button / The Aegis/Baltimore Sun Media)

In a much closer and lower-scoring affair than past meetings, the Perryville Panthers outlasted the Havre de Grace Warriors, 7-6, to win the 2019 Susquehanna Bowl, avenging the 45-15 beat-down their Harford County foes handed them last year.

The game was one of nine played Friday night to open the high school football season for Harford County teams.

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Also in the win column were Fallston, Patterson Mill, Edgewood and Harford Tech. C. Milton Wright had its game stopped after a South Carroll player went down with a head/neck injury.

As for the Susquehanna Bowl, this year’s edition was defined as much by each teams setback as it as their highlights; the two teams committed a combined six turnovers — five in the first half — along with countless penalties.

Early on, the Panthers set the tone with their running game, as six of their first eight plays came on the ground. It was there where Perryville pushed their nemesis around, as their run-heavy, eight-play, 69-yard, three-minute drive finished with quarterback Tyler Nasuta finding running back Emerson Hampton in the flats for a 16-yard touchdown.

Hampton and backfield mate Khalial Mitchell received a healthy dose of carries throughout as their efforts kept the Warriors offense off the field and set up several play-action chances for Nasuta, who cashed in on them in the aforementioned opening drive.

“The running game, at times, was dominant, especially off the left side,” Perryville head coach Chris Johnson said. “I wanted to kinda keep the ball away from them as much as possible. I kinda feel bad because Tyler [Nasuta] didn’t really get a chance to show what he can do because he’s got a great arm. And he’ll have opportunities in other games.”

Despite plenty of chances, Havre de Grace’s offense struggled for most of the game. Their opening drive was marred by negative yardage and two penalties — a holding call and a false start — that nullified any positive yardage they picked up.

“We have a really young football team,” Havre de Grace head coach Brian Eberhardt said. “We had penalties at critical times. Those type of penalties really kill you when you’re a young team.”

The Warriors picked things up a bit on their proceeding possessions, but the miscues once again killed progression. They showed flashes of promise, with quarterback Devon Coates flashing some arm talent and mobility in the pocket and tailbacks Tommy Meehan and Brandon Rabbitt finding some creases to run through, but it was often one step forward, two steps back on this night.

Their second series faltered because of more penalties — they tallied four in the opening period — but thanks to a Perryville red zone fumble on the following drive, the Warriors had a prime chance to at least cut into the one-touchdown deficit. But on the very next play, Coates paid for trying to squeeze a slant route throw into double coverage and the pass was picked off by Perryville defensive back Daniel Tserkis.

But again, good fortune kept the Warriors in the game. The Panthers milked the clock a little following the turnover, but seven plays later, it was Nasuta’s turn to give the ball away, as he over threw his receiver on the go route and opened the door for a Warriors interception.

After halftime, much of the game followed this pattern: the team on offense strings some positive plays together but ultimately get done in by either a flag, a fumble, or an interception. Both team’s defenses also tightened up and kept their opponents around the line of scrimmage when they weren’t generating takeaways.

On several drives, the Warriors’ receivers found some open space and could’ve had a momentum-swinging scores, but in the game of inches, Coates’ — who was starting in his first varsity game — throws sailed either a bit high, a bit wide, or carried a bit, too much loft.

“He faced a very good Perryville team,” Eberhardt said. “That was his first time taking snaps as a varsity quarterback, and he’ll definitely be able to build on it.”

Despite falling short on those chances, the Warriors finally caught a break at the 10:41 mark of the fourth quarter, when Rabbitt took an otherwise innocuous intermediate pass, maintained his balance among a scrum and emerged out the other side with a long touchdown to bring his team to within one. However, the Warriors missed the extra point that could have tied the game.

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The Warriors had another opportunity after forcing a Perryville 3-and-out on the ensuing drive, but a fumbled snap on third down forced Coates to go to the air on fourth. Thanks to Hampton’s efforts in coverage, the pass fell incomplete, giving the Panthers the ball back.

From there, Perryville went back to the ground and drained the clock like a vampire on a 30-day fast. They took all but 27 seconds off the clock on their final drive leaving the Warriors to attempt some trickery and a series of laterals as a last gasp at upholding their winning streak in this series.

“It was a hard-fought battle,” Johnson said. “I’m really proud of our kids, the way they stuck with it tonight and played lights-out defense.”

Cougars snap streak

Losing all nine games in 2018, Fallston opened 2019 with a win, a 29-28 overtime win at Winters Mill.

The Cougars were ahead 21-0, but lost the lead to force the overtime. Winters Mill scored to go up, 28-21, but Justin Wiegand connected with Nick Curry for a touchdown and Wiegand then passed to CJ Turner for the conversion and the win.

Turner also added a pick in the victory and the Cougars got rushing touchdowns from Wiegand and Noah Richard. “So happy for our players, they played their hearts out,” Cougars coach Jimmy Grant said. “Also happy for our entire coaching staff. A great group of people; Johnny Woods, Art Hughson, Matt Draayer, Connor Davis, Jake Mitich, Bryan Jirsa, Tim Ward and Brad Holtzapple.”

Tech beats Patuxent

Harford Tech also went on the road to win, beating Patuxent, 31-21.

Senior quarterback Ryan Hunt threw three touchdown passes, all to senior wide receiver TJ Lowery and senior Jhalil Cooper

returned a punt for a score. Sophomore running back Kelvin Mendez also ran for a touchdown.

Rams beat Perry Hall

Edgewood won at Perry Hall, 28-23. The game was tied 14-14 at half.

Mason Putney had two rushing touchdowns and Antonio Powell had one. Jalin Boger added a receiving score.

Randy Hughes, Jalen Kelley and Mitchell Taylor each had an interception on defense.

Huskies beat Pikesville

Patterson Mill opened with a 31-18 win over host Pikesville. Stats were not provided.

CMW game halted

The Mustangs were ahead of visiting South Carroll 14-0 late in the first quarter when the injury occurred on a kickoff.

“Our hearts just melted when he went down,” Mustangs coach Jim French said, who added that the block that resulted in the injury was legal. Game officials reviewed the play and confirmed the block was legal.

The player was air lifted to Shock Trauma, where French noted that as 11 p.m. last night, he had movement in all extremities.

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The game will be completed Monday at 7 p.m. The game will resume where it left off, with 1.4 seconds to play in the first quarter.

The game was stopped due to South Carroll head coach Mike Kraus accompanying the player to the hospital.

Other games

Joppatowne fell to visiting Loch Raven, 28-22; and Aberdeen was beaten by visiting Parkville. Also, North Harford won by forfeit over Bel Air due to the coaching violations and penalties put down by MPSSAA.

(Aegis sports editor Randy McRoberts contributed to this article.)

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