There are many ways that North County's run-and-shoot offense can win football games, and one way is with ace back Frank Brown running the ball.
The Knights' vaunted offense was a bit out of sync yesterday at Dundalk Community College, so coach Football
Chuck Markiewicz went to Brown, and fifth-ranked North County (10-1) advanced to the second round of the Class 4A playoffs with a 34-7 victory over eighth-ranked Perry Hall (9-2).
With Brown gaining 292 yards and scoring two touchdowns on 29 carries, the fifth-seeded Knights advanced to a semifinal meeting next weekend at top-seeded Crossland (11-0), a 21-0 winner over eighth-seeded Largo (7-3) Friday night.
The 292 yards was 44 shy of the school-record 336 he set in a 52-20 romp over Chesapeake-AA on Oct. 9. Brown, a transfer from Southwestern High in Baltimore, now has gained a school-record 1,604 yards on 164 attempts for an average of 9.8 yards per carry.
"We couldn't stop their back [Brown], and I don't think we tackled well," said Perry Hall coach Joe Stoy. "But there is no doubt about it: they are the better football team."
North County came into the game as the state's highest-scoring team with 393 points and didn't disappoint in the first half, scoring 21 points before the fourth-seeded Gators got on the board.
After forcing a punt to start the game, the Knights took over at the Perry Hall 48-yard line. With Brown carrying three times down to the 8, quarterback Eric Howard hit two straight passes to Mike Quarles and Teon Carter, with the latter grabbing a 2-yard touchdown toss.
Howard booted the extra point and it was 7-0 North County with 8:25 left in the first quarter.
With 2:45 remaining in the first period, Brown broke his longest of the game, a 64-yarder for a score, and Howard converted again to make it 14-0. The 5-foot-10, 170-pound senior juked three Gators along the Knights' sideline.
Junior back Troy Fowlkes (four carries, 43 yards) rumbled 23 yards for another Knights touchdown. Howard added the extra point and it was 21-0 with 4:46 to go in the half.
"At that point our kids could have quit, but they didn't and got back in the game," said Stoy.
On a third-and-10 situation at the North County 20, Gators quarterback Ryan Burks scampered into the end zone to cap a 10-play, 75-yard drive.
Jason Bloom kicked the extra point and with 1:55 left in the half, and Perry Hall was trailing 21-7.
With their passing game stymied, Brown ran for 132 yards on only 11
carries in the first half and came back with 160 yards on 18 rushes and one touchdown in the second half to keep stubborn Perry Hall from catching up.
Brown scored his Anne Arundel County-record 24th touchdown from 3 yards out with only 46 seconds to go to cap the scoring.