Annapolis coach Roy Brown said he was relieved to get out of Gambrills yesterday with a 42-14 victory over Arundel.
Brown, who played football at Arundel in the 1960s, was wary going into Steve Carroll Field despite Arundel's 1-3 record.
The Wildcats had been averaging nearly 300 yards rushing a game, but the Panthers' unheralded defense held Arundel (1-4) to 124 yards rushing and zero passing yardage (0-for-10).
Arundel junior Chase Gompers rushed for 58 yards on 16 attempts, with 38 yards coming on a late fourth-quarter touchdown run. The other two main backs, Justin Tippett and Dan Nucci, were shut down.
"Arundel is a very dangerous team," Brown said. "They had me worried that first series the way they moved the ball, but our defense showed what kind of defense they are."
On the game's first series, Arundel drove 62 yards in 14 plays, giving the ball up on downs at the Annapolis 4.
"That was big," said Arundel coach Bill Zucco. "Annapolis is the best team we have played so far. They are the first to give us problems offensively. I thought their defense was the difference."
When people think of the unbeaten and No. 5-ranked Panthers (5-0), who have won 12 consecutive games over Anne Arundel County opponents and 18 of the past 19 dating back to 1997 (9-0 start), they think of their powerful running attack led by Rayvon Johnson and Aaron Copeland.
Annapolis, the metro area's third-highest ranked team in the Associated Press state poll at No. 13, behind No. 4 Gilman and No. 9 Randallstown, is averaging 42.6 points a game, but what has gone unnoticed is a defense that has given up 61 points.
In the last four games, Annapolis has only given up 27 after outlasting Old Mill, 41-34, in the season opener.
"We gave up 27 points in the last period against Old Mill and other than that our defense has been outstanding all year," said Brown, whose team was ahead 34-7 at one point.
"You can't score a lot of points if you don't have the defense giving you the ball."
Among the defensive standouts yesterday were down linemen Brandon Gulley (two fumble recoveries), Nick Good-Malloy, Trevon Williams and linebackers Delano Watkins (interception) and Copeland.
Johnson had a typical game. With long first-half runs of 73 and 31 yards, he rushing for 154 of his 183 yards and two touchdowns by halftime. Copeland ran 11 times for 76 yards, 63 in the second half as the Panthers amassed 336 yards on the ground.
Senior quarterback Mike Phaneuf, who had been nursing a sprained ankle and bad back the past couple weeks, took the reins from junior backup Charlie Dammeyer to start the second half, with the Panthers clinging to a 14-7 lead.
Johnson raced 73 yards the first time he touched the ball to lift Annapolis to a 7-0 lead with 1: 41 left in the first period.
A 31-yard scamper by Johnson with 5: 17 left in the half made it 14-0, but the Wildcats answered with a 6-yard score by Nucci, set up by Justin Lively's 44-yard interception return, to cut the deficit to seven at the break.
Phaneuf scored a touchdown on a 1-yard plunge in the third quarter and tossed two more touchdowns to senior Marvin Charles in the fourth from 22 and 27 yards out.
Charles, an all-county end last season, has 10 receptions with seven of them going for touchdowns.
No. 2 Randallstown 26, No. 13 Eastern Tech 21: The Rams overcame a nine-point halftime deficit and shut out the Mavericks in the second half for the Baltimore County 3A-4A League win.
Charles Smith had two interceptions for Randallstown (4-1, 4-0), which had to overcome 10 penalties.
Eastern Tech's Jerome Owens rushed for 61 yards and all three of the Mavericks' scores, and Brad Newell kicked all three extra points.
No. 3 Milford Mill 42, Patapsco 14: All-Metro Richard Johnson ran for 168 yards, including a 70-yard touchdown, and threw a 15-yard score to Renard Stancil as the host Millers (5-0, 4-0) routed the Patriots (1-4).
No. 8 Howard 20, No. 6 Oakland Mills 7: Antuan Jones led the unbeaten Lions (5-0, 4-0 Howard County) with 78 yards on five carries and intercepted two passes to beat the Scorpions on a day Howard was celebrating its 25th anniversary undefeated state championship football team.