For the first time all season, the No. 1 St. Frances football team fell behind an opponent Friday night, but No. 3 Archbishop Spalding’s lead didn’t last long.
The Panthers, who are 8-0 and have allowed just three touchdowns this fall, erased Spalding’s early lead with 42 unanswered points to take a 42-7 victory in a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference game in Severn.
In the first quarter, the Cavaliers (4-3, 2-2 MIAA) executed their plan, slowing down the game and dominating possession with short gains. On their second drive, quarterback Jayden Umbarger hit Jamari Jones with a 9-yard touchdown pass and Camden Price added the extra point.
The Panthers (5-0 MIAA) got on the board two minutes into the second half when quarterback Jalon Jones ran for a 6-yard touchdown. The Cavaliers’ Adam Barclay blocked the extra point to keep Spalding ahead 7-6, but running back Joachim Bangda scored the first of his three short rushing touchdowns to put St. Frances in the lead for good as he popped through from 2 yards out with 2:02 left in the first half. Jones completed the conversion pass to Joe Bearns to put the Panthers ahead, 14-7.
“We just didn’t play our game,” said Panthers defensive end Eyabi Anoma, an Under Armour All-American, “and when we don’t play our game and try to do our own thing, that’s what happens. They’re a disciplined team and disciplined teams, they find a weakness … but after they scored, on the sideline, I talked to my teammates. We woke up and that was it. That’s St. Frances football. If we play St. Frances football, no one’s going to score on us.”
Anoma led the defensive charge with three sacks and Chris Braswell had two. Anoma and Jalen Carter combined for sack that forced a fumble that Aaron Willis picked up and ran 65 yards for a touchdown to boost the St. Frances lead to 28-7 with 1:13 left in the third quarter.
“That was the game. That deflated us,” Spalding coach Kyle Schmitt said. “That was the reason we tried to slow the game down, because you slow it down, you get them in the fourth quarter where they’re uncomfortable — and we were close. That run by Julius [Chestnut] was right there and if we could find a way to get it to 21-14, we’ve got a chance, but then they just kind of poured it on.”
Bangda added a 1-yard run and Traeshon Holden broke through for a 51-yard run to cap the scoring.
Early on, Jones lost a 72-yard touchdown run to a penalty, but he finished with 17 carries for 120 yards while Bangda ran 18 times for 108 yards. Jones also was 4-for-5 passing for 62 yards.
Umbarger was 11-for-16 passing for 86 yards and ran 18 times for 32 yards.
The Panthers, ranked No. 17 in USA Today’s Super 25, hadn’t given up a point since Sept. 22, when Calvert Hall managed a late touchdown in St. Frances’ 28-7 win. That’s the only other touchdown they’ve allowed to an MIAA opponent.
They gave up the other score to Bishop Sullivan, from Virginia Beach, in a 29-8 victory on Sept. 1. They’ve outscored their eight opponents, 309-23.
A year ago, the Panthers assumed the first No. 1 ranking in program history after defeated Spalding, 32-29. The Cavaliers were No. 1 and St. Frances was No. 2 going into the game. The Panthers took an 18-0 first-half lead and then held off a Spalding rally that cut the lead to three with three minutes left. The Panthers have held the No. 1 ranking ever since.
Next week, St. Frances can finish off a second straight undefeated regular season in conference play, hosting their final A Conference opponent, Mount Saint Joseph, on Friday night at Utz Field in Patterson Park. This season, however, the Panthers will have to make it through a two-round playoff to win the conference title.
The Cavaliers head to Gilman on Oct. 28 before finishing the regular season at Mount Saint Joseph on Nov. 4.
SF 0 14 14 14 — 42
AS 7 0 0 0 — 7
AS—Jones 9 pass from Umbarger (Price kick)
SF—Jones 6 run (kick blocked)
SF—Bangda 2 run (Bearns pass from Jones)
SF—Bangda 2 run (Larson kick)
SF—Willis 44 fumble adv. (Larson kick)
SF—Bangda 1 run (Larson kick)
SF—Holden 51 run (Larson kick)