The final score was Overlea 36, Catonsville 14, seeming to indicate another easy victory for the fourth-ranked Falcons yesterday.
But Overlea football coach Terry Ward knows different.
Visiting Catonsville trailed by just eight points at halftime and was driving for the tying score early in the third quarter.
The drive ended at Overlea's 15-yard line, however, when the Falcons' Shawnte' Dukes intercepted Comets quarterback Don Senkus and returned it to the Catonsville 31.
Seven plays later, Kenyon Crawford scored a touchdown on a 2-yard run and the Falcons were on their way to their 13th consecutive regular-season win.
Overlea improved to 5-0 overall and 3-0 in the Baltimore County 1A-2A League.
"The interception made a big difference, but even after that Catonsville didn't fold," Ward said. "I think they played their best game against us. They played hard to the end, but we broke a few big plays that were to our favor."
Said Catonsville coach Warren Como: "Against a team like Overlea, if you make a mistake it will cost you. We made two mistakes and it turned into 16 points."
The first miscue for Catonsville (3-2, 2-1) occurred in the second quarter when Nicholas Wilkens fumbled and Damon Brown recovered it for Overlea at the Falcons 42. It was the only blemish on the day for Wilkens (128 yards rushing on 19 carries), but the Falcons capitalized on it.
Overlea quarterback Bernard Fitchette went on to run for 16 yards and pass for 24 in the Falcons' 58-yard drive that culminated in a 2-yard touchdown run by Mike Forney. Crawford's run for the two-point conversion gave Overlea a 16-0 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, Jason Brooks fielded the ball at Catonsville's 5 and passed to Senkus, who ran 90 yards down the sidelines for an apparent touchdown.
A clipping penalty nullified the score, but the Comets would not be denied. Wilkens rushed for 40 yards on seven carries in a 14-play, 70-yard drive that was capped by his 1-yard touchdown run.
"We hung with them for a half," Como said. "They're the better team, but we have nothing to be ashamed of."
Led by Fitchette (10 carries for 97 yards), the Falcons gained 322 of their 398 total yards on the ground. Dukes, who caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from Fitchette for Overlea's first score, ran for 80 yards on just two carries -- including a 61-yard touchdown run. Forney (77 yards, two touchdowns) and Crawford (68 yards, one touchdown) also contributed.
Fitchette, whose elusiveness and speed have earned him a reputation as a scrambler, also appeared to be more comfortable throwing the ball yesterday. He completed 4-of-9 passes for 76 yards.
"We have to throw the ball to win, so we've been trying to work on our passing attack," Ward said.
"We're trying to get [Fitchette] to step into the pocket, but he is such a super runner that he wants to take off and play tag with you."