The Pallotti football team got the job done when it counted to win the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association C Conference championship in a 43-14 victory over Annapolis Area Christian School Saturday night at Archbishop Spalding in Severn.
Turnovers and penalties hobbled the Panthers for most of the game against an Eaglessquad they beat 34-2 eight days earlier.
Pallotti (10-3) used a strong rushing attack to score two touchdowns in the second half to overcome five turnovers and 12 penalties for 123 yards.
It’s Pallotti’s first football championship since the Panthers shared the title with Boys’ Latin in 2005.
“You usually don’t win football games when you have five turnovers,” Pallotti football coach Rick Peacock said. “But our defense kept us in the game. We had a couple of goal-line stands.”
The Panthers finished with six sacks. Junior linebacker Chase Young recorded 3½ and Chris Mullins and Eddie O’Neill each added one.
Pallotti’s rushing attack overpowered AACS in the second half, rolling up 200 yards of its 359 yards.
Justin Mulbach and Tony Tyler each rushed for scores running behind an offensive line of Jeff Butler, Chris Mullins, Anthony Harvey, Darrien Holder and Jelani Dennis-Gray.
“We were more physical,” Pallotti sophomore quarterback Mason Clark said of the seconf half. “We are bigger, faster and stronger.”
Pallotti started to pull away in the middle of the third quarter.
Clark threw his second of two touchdown passes, finding Cameron Sullivan-Brown in the right corner of the end zone for an 8-yard score to make it 27-14.
The Panthers boosted their lead to 35-14 with 6:09 remaining in the fourth quarter on Mulbah’s 5-yard run.
Things were different early in the second half for Pallotti.
On the opening kickoff, AACS’s Jason Burner recovered Sullivan-Brown’s fumble at the Panthers’ 32. The Eagles only moved two yards on four plays, but got the ball right back when Jarrett Heckert recovered Mulbah’s fumble.
AACS cashed in. Sophomore quarterback DJ Golatt found Chayce Branson in the right corner of the end zone for a 32-yard touchdown to trim the lead to 21-13 with 9:08 left in the third quarter.
The Eagles (5-5) looked good there, but struggled to start the game. On the first play from scrimmage, Pallotti sophomore cornerback Cameron Sullivan-Brown picked off AACS sophomore quarterback DJ Golatt.
Three plays later, the Eagles were called for pass interference when Clark attempted to hit Sullivan-Brown near the end zone.
That gave Pallotti a 1st-and-10 at the Eagles’ 22, but the Panthers’ couldn’t capitalize as AACS recovered running back Jaret Patterson’s fumble.
In the middle of the first quarter, Victor Massey fumbled a punt that was recovered by teammate Joshua Awoyers.
On AACS’s first play of its second series, running back Chris McRae fumbled, but was ruled down by contact.
AACS scored first. Mulbach never had control of a pitch from Clark on 1st-and-10 at the Pallotti 37. Defensive end Jarrett Heckert recovered the fumble at the 20 and scampered into the end zone with 1:30 left in the first quarter to give AACS a 6-0 lead.
Pallotti answered 20 second later. Devin Jiggetts hit a wide-open Sullivan-Brown at the 35 on a halfback-option pass and he trotted into end zone.
The Panthers took the lead for good with 8:46 remaining in the second quarter. Two plays after McRae saved a touchdown by knocking Demitri McCray-Buggs out of bounds at the 2, Clark teamed up with Patterson on a 6-yard touchdown to make it 13-7.
The Panthers boosted their lead to 20-7 with 4:41 remaining in the second quarter as McCray-Buggs ran around the left side of the offensive line for a 17-yard score.
Note: Late in the second quarter, a fight broke out near the AACS bench. Three Pallotti players and an AACS player were ejected. Both coaching staffs came on the field to get things under control. The Panthers had three unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on the play.