Gilman quarterback Kai Locksley considered the beginning of the third quarter the pivotal time for his Greyhounds Friday afternoon, even though they had a lead on St. Frances at the break.
The No. 3 Greyhounds started the game with 21 straight points, only to watch No. 12 St. Frances cut the lead to five on a couple of big plays in the final minutes of the first half.
Locksley, a 6-foot-5, 205-pound quarterback committed to Florida State, guided Gilman on a long scoring drive to open the third quarter and that sparked a 42-16 victory over the visiting Panthers in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference opener for both teams.
"I think a lot of our guys got content with being up 21-0 and you can never do that in this league," said Locksley, who ran for three touchdowns. "We've got tremendous talent throughout this whole league, so you can never be content, so third quarter we came together and were like, 'We've got to come back out with fire just like we did in the beginning and keep the fire on. Don't ever let off the gas.'"
On the first drive of the third quarter, Locksley directed the read option to perfection, with the backs staying patient and the line opening holes for them to run for 58 yards on 10 plays. Jelani Roberts opened the drive with a 23-yard run and Locksley finished it with a 1-yard sneak for a 28-16 lead.
After St. Frances (1-4, 0-1 A Conference) went three-and-out, the Greyhounds (3-2, 1-0) drove 68 yards on the ground and Locksley scored his third rushing touchdown of the game on an 18-yard sprint for a 35-16 lead with 3:11 left in the quarter.
Gilman then tried an onside kick and recovered after the ball hit off a Panthers player. Four plays later, Locksley fumbled the ball after running to the 2-yard line, but Robert Branch recovered it and finished off the play for a 42-16 Gilman lead with 1:20 left in the first quarter.
"They came out and they dominated, walked down the field and got that punch, that first score," Panthers coach Messay Hailemariam said. "To bounce back we've either got to get a great return or at least have the semblance of a good drive and … we turned the ball over right away and they punched it in. In this type of game, it's a hard thing to dig yourself back out of."
The Panthers struggled all afternoon to find some consistency on offense, but they did bounce back after Gilman scored the first 21 points.
Short punts — one for just three yards — gave Gilman excellent field position on their first two drives, helping set up scoring runs by Locksley and Roberts in the first seven minutes of the game.
The Panthers then turned over their next three possessions on interceptions by Kasim Hill and Alonzo Mayo and a fumble recovery by Shamar Shanks. After the fumble recovery on the Panthers' 8-yard line, it took just two plays for the Greyhounds to score on Roberts' 14-yard run, despite a holding penalty.
In the final two minutes of the half, the Panthers rallied. Maurice Williams scored on a 47-yard run from scrimmage and Devon Williams added the 2-point conversion run. After Gilman went three-and-out, Deandre House returned the punt 85 yards for a touchdown and Maurice Williams added two more points to cut the lead to 21-16.
"We're a program that's building, and I think we did relatively well in the game," said Hailemariam, whose team is in its second season in the A Conference after moving up from the C Conference. "We'd like to come out on top in terms of the wins, but this is what growth is. You've got to go through your pains in order to reap the benefits of the harvest."
SF 0 16 0 0 -- 16
G 14 7 21 0 -- 42
G—Locksley 4 run (Cohill kick)
G—Roberts 30 run (Cohill kick)
G—Roberts 14 run (Cohill kick)
SF—M.Williams 47 run (D.Williams run)
SF—House 85 punt ret. (M.Williams run)
G—Locksley 1 run (Cohill kick)
G—Locksley 18 run (Cohill kick)
G—Branch 2 fumble rec. (Cohill kick)