It took No. 8 Annapolis nearly 38 minutes to get into the end zone last night. But that was soon enough, as the Panthers rallied in the fourth quarter and staved off visiting Queen Anne's, 14-6.
Annapolis (6-1, 6-0) ended its scoring drought 1 minute and 42 second into the final quarter when Shawn Taylor ran in from six yards away. Taylor's score was made possible two plays earlier when teammate Lamont Henson blocked a punt to give the hosts first-and-10 at the Lions' 20-yard line.
The Panthers added an insurance score in the waning seconds of the contest. Taylor's one-yard plunge capped a 12-play, 80-yard drive, and most importantly, kept the ball out of the hands of the Lions (3-4, 3-4).
"Penalties were a big factor in the first half, but we cut them out in the second half and our defense stiffened," said Annapolis coach Roy Brown, whose team trailed at the half, 6-0. "Our offense got some opportunities in the second half and if you give them the opportunity, they'll move the football."
Annapolis looked in command on its opening series, but came up empty after driving to the Lions' 7-yard line when Clint Wilson's field goal attempt fell short to the left.
The Panthers got Queen Anne's 80-yard opening drive going with a late-hit penalty and later resuscitated the drive when they jumped off sides with the Lions' punting unit on the field. The Lions' took full advantage of the infractions, capping the 15-play scoring venture with a three-yard run by senior fullback Keith Ensor.
The Panthers managed to do something right before the first quarter ended as Jeff Ogle blocked the point-after kick to keep the score at 6-0.
Annapolis' offense floundered on its ensuing possession, but Chris Johnson timed his hit on a Queen Anne's punt returner perfectly, forcing a fumble and giving the Panthers the ball back inside Lions' territory.
Queen Anne's defense returned the favor when it was called for encroachment on a fourth-and-short situation, but Annapolis couldn't convert as Johnson threw three straight incomplete passes to end the drive.
"We knew that if we kept pursuing the ball like crazy, things were going to work out," said Ogle. 'We knew we couldn't hang our heads and quit."