Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association football teams waited all summer and much of the fall to get back onto the field because of the pandemic. Once they returned to play, there was some expected rust.
It was no different for defending MIAA B conference champ Pallotti in the their 15-6 victory over Concordia on Saturday in the season opener for both teams. Pallotti threw two interceptions, turned the ball over on downs twice and lost two fumble, but still managed to prevail.
Pallotti’s first win didn’t lack importance in the eyes of coach Anthony Ashley, despite the sloppy offensive play.
“It was significant for us to come on the road on a Saturday morning. The young men had to meet [at] 7:30-8 o’clock down in Laurel and travel up here [Towson] against a very good team,” Ashley said. “Concordia has one of the best defensive lines that we’re going to see and we knew that. ”
Pallotti’s defense stood out with Concordia’s only points coming on a 70-yard fumble return by junior linebacker Gabe McArthur.
Senior linebacker Connor Maloney made a number of decisive plays for Pallotti’s defense, including a safety.
With a number of MIAA football cancellations due to the novel coronavirus, Maloney played with the understanding that any of the games that he plays this season could be the last of his high school career.
“The numbers are rising everyday with COVID and so we don’t know how long the season is going to be," Maloney said. “We know it’s planned for seven-eight games, but we have no clue how long it’s going to be. We’ve just got to play each game like it’s our last because for all we know, it could be. We don’t know if the season could abruptly end or one of our guys test for COVID and we’re out for two weeks, and then if enough teams test positive, they might just cancel the season for us.”
With 4:09 left in the first half and great field position, Pallotti quarterback Ejau Collazo tossed a 29-yard pass to senior wideout Will Webster-Brown for a touchdown to break the scoreless tie and take a 6-0 lead into halftime.
In the third quarter, Concordia punched the ball loose to get the ball back on its own 2-yard line. However, the Saints couldn’t progress downfield offensively and punted. Later in the quarter, Concordia made another goal-line stand and promptly allowed a safety with 5:55 left in the third to give Pallotti an 8-0 lead.
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Pallotti increased its lead to 15-0 when running back Clayton Bullock-Thomas Jr. scampered for a 20-yard touchdown run with 2:29 left in the third quarter.
Concordia’s first and only score came on McArthur’s return with a one minute left. The two-point conversion was no good and the subsequent onside kick fell safely into the hands of Pallotti.
First-year Concordia coach Joe Battaglia loved the fight that his team showed.
“Obviously, we have a lot to clean up,” Battaglia said. “ … Offense always takes longer to get going. We’ve been put on a short timetable to go play this season, so I knew it was going to take a little longer for the offense to click. But what I did see in the game is that we got a little stronger in the end.”
Concordia will have its second home game next Saturday against John Carroll. Pallotti will head to Towson again on Friday to face Calvert Hall.
Gilman 2, St. Paul’s 1: Nate Block and, Devon Nixon scored and Ryan Martinez and Josh Melancon added assists as the Greyhounds opened the season with a victory.