Perry Hall falls short, 31-11 Watkins Mill turns turnovers, penalties into semifinal win 4A football


Perry Hall coach Joe Stoy probably won't be visiting Dundalk Community College any time soon.

The place hasn't been very kind to him or his football team on their past couple of visits.

Last night, the third-seeded Gators of Baltimore County went to Dundalk Community College looking for a berth in next weekend's Class 4A state championship game in College Park. What they found was a 31-11 season-ending loss to seventh-seeded Watkins Mill of Montgomery County.

"We had a great year, but we played against a good football team tonight and we turned the ball over four times and that was the story of the game," said Stoy, who saw last season end on the same field with a 34-7 loss to North County in the first round of the state playoffs. "We came here to be competitive, and turnovers cost us the football game."

Watkins Mill (10-2), which will make its first state-final appearance next week against top-seeded Winston Churchill, a 36-22 winner over fourth-seeded Oxon Hill, scored first with 10:00 left in the second quarter when senior running back Ed Gordon broke through the left tackle gap, cut to his right and raced 47 yards.

Perry Hall's Jason Bloom was intercepted on the second play of Gators' next possession, giving the Wolverines the ball at the 23.

Two plays later, sophomore David Garey dodged two would-be tacklers inside the 5 to complete a 23-yard touchdown run for a 14-0 lead.

Things got worse for the Gators on their next possession. Bloom was flushed out of the pocket on first-and-10 and fumbled. The Wolverines took over at Perry Hall's 9.

Watkins Mill was awarded first-and-goal at the 5 after the Gators' fourth offside penalty but had to settle for a 22-yard field goal by John Blackburn and a 17-0 lead.

The Wolverines opened the second half with an interception and made it 24-0 on a 29-yard pass from Josh Smithberger to Jesus Salaum.

Perry Hall (10-2) moved the ball to the Wolverines' 6 before their fifth offside call put them into an obvious passing situation on fourth and long. Bloom's pass was intercepted, and the Wolverines took over at their 6.

The Gators finally got a break and some good field position when Jason Whitaker reovered a fumble deep in Wolverines territory. Five plays later, they were on the board after a 5-yard run by Mandel Marsh.

A conversion pass from Bloom to Noah Wilson cut the lead to 16, giving the Gators reason to believe.

Perry Hall's glimmer of hope disappeared, however, on Watkins Mill's next possession as the Wolverines drove 79 yards on 11 plays and took a 31-8 lead with 9:38 remaining.

The Gators, whose only loss of the season came against Calvert Hall, got an inconsequential 27-yard field goal from Bloom in the waning seconds.

"We had great field position the whole first half and we didn't capitalize and I thought we would and we didn't, but fortunately in the second quarter we put a couple in," said Watkins Mill coach Ken Brace, who picked up his 100th career win last week against North County.

"Once we got up, our defense is strong enough that we weren't going to give up too much."

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