The Bel Air High School Bobcats' defensive woes continued against the John Carroll Patriots, losing 38-17 on Friday night.
It was the second straight loss for the Bobcats (1-2), which have been outscored 78-27 during that stretch. On the other side, the Patriots (3-0) have now won three straight to start their season.
The game had all the markings of a rivalry game. Fans, parents, and students from both schools filled the bleachers to the brim, creating an atmosphere worthy of the "Battle of Bel Air." Ultimately, the Patriots gave their supporters more to cheer for by the time the clock struck zero.
For a team that relies on their run game, the Bobcats struggled to move the ball on the ground against the Patriots with a couple of exceptions. The passing game didn't fare much better, with a 31-yard catch by tailback Kade Ketcham serving as one of the few highlights. Bel Air did not pick up a first down until the 3:50 mark of the first quarter.
As for John Carroll, their offensive line had no problems creating lanes using the read option, and their senior quarterback Qadir Ismail along with tailbacks Chimzi Chuku and Dalen Berry spent most of the game either outrunning or bouncing off of Bel Air defenders.
At the 10:53 mark of the opening period, Chuku carried the ball to the right side and broke a long touchdown run of roughly 50 yards, allowing the Patriots to take a 7-0 lead. After a quick three-and-out by the Bobcats, John Carroll again used their no-huddle, read option scheme and saw success. Berry capped off another lengthy drive with a touchdown to give the Pats a two-touchdown advantage.
In the second quarter, Bel Air started to come back. At the 5:19 mark, tailback Hunter Hruz ran through the middle and scored the first Bel Air touchdown. Later in the half, the Bobcats kept the momentum going this time on defense, recovering a fumble at the goal line to prevent the Patriots from taking a two-score lead. The momentum would be short lived, though, as Bel Air surrendered a safety on the first offensive play after the turnover. After an interception, John Carroll extended the lead to 23-7 after Ismail scored his first of two touchdowns on the ground with two seconds left in the half.
Coming out of intermission, Bel Air started to work its way back. After an Alex Clifford field goal, the Bobcats showed some life on offense. Hruz, Bel Air's leading rusher in total yards and yards per carry, took another long run to the house to trim the lead to 23-17 with 2:23 left in the third frame. As it turned out, that would be the Bobcats' last score.
John Carroll, however, was not done. In another red zone drive for the Patriots, wideout Dorian Woody ran to the left side for a touchdown, resetting the lead to two scores. After the Bobcats turned the ball over on downs, Ismail pounded in his second score to put the game on ice.
After two tough losses, Bel Air will now look to regroup on the road. The Bobcats travel to Elkton on Sept. 22 and Havre de Grace on Sept. 29. As for John Carroll, they take their undefeated show back home on Sept. 22 when they face Edmondson.