Lakers take charge behind the leadership of Crouse
by Nelson Coffin
Nursing a 7-6 halftime advantage, No. 20 Boys’ Latin had it all going on in the second half of its battle against St. Vincent Pallotti on Friday night in a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference football tilt at Fairland Regional Park in Laurel.
The Lakers (5-2, 3-0 conference), who knocked off then-No. 14 John Carroll School last week, showed why they have jumped from unranked in the VSN Top 20 to unflappable on the field when they put together a 13-play, 80-yard scoring drive that lopped nearly eight minutes off the clock and set the tone for a solid 20-12 victory over the Panthers (1-5, 1-2).
Senior quarterback Brenden Crouse was stellar during the sequence, completing all four of his passes for 44 yards and rushing five times for 34 yards, including a 4-yard sweep around right end for a touchdown and a 14-6 lead with just under five minutes remaining in the third quarter.
For the game, Crouse ran 19 times for 67 yards and was 11-for-21 though the air for 118 yards.
His favorite target was senior wideout Connor Walsh, who grabbed five tosses for 69 yards.
Senior running back Devon Brewer led the Lakers’ ground game with 16 carries for 91 yards.
Crouse, who has committed to play lacrosse for the Air Force Academy, also led two more drives that in the final period that ended with field goals by junior Sam Grace of 34 and 26 yards as BL dominated the battle of possession in the second half by running 42 plays to Pallotti’s nine.
“All in all, we were just able to attack what they were showing us (defensively),” said Crouse, who scored the Lakers first touchdown in the second quarter on a 5-yard jaunt. “They had some weaknesses, so that we could run the ball on play-action. We were able to take advantage and exploit their weaknesses.”
Walsh said that the Lakers trust each other when the going gets tough, as it did a couple of times in that crucial drive when he caught a 13-yard pass from Crouse to convert a key fourth down at the Pallotti 37-yard line.
“That was huge for us,” Walsh said.
And it couldn’t have happened without an offensive line that was winning the war in the trenches.
“Our O-line, that was by far their best game of the year,” Crouse said. “They have a lot of new kids and kids who played last year that are playing new positions. It was great to see them work hard and prove they are one of the best lines in the MIAA B Conference.”
Still, Pallotti showed it’s quick-strike capability when senior quarterback Brandon Stewart found senior wideout Jelani Foster streaking across the middle for a 90-yard touchdown with one minutes, 32 seconds left in regulation.
The ensuing on-side kick, however, went out of bounds and the Lakers went into victory formation to cement the verdict.
Pallotti’s first score came on a 5-yard run by Stewart to cap its best drive of the game, which covered 80 yards on just eight plays and was highlighted by a 32-yard run by sophomore running back Blake Corum.
“We dominated the second half, yet we had some dropped passes and had 11 penalties,” BL coach Ritchie Schell said. “And that’s not going to get us where we need to be. Defensively, we played well. Pallotti has two or three really good players. We didn’t check out of man (coverage) and we got beat on a long pass — that should never happen. We shut off their inside game and we knew they would go outside with Blake (Corum). He’s a helluva player.”
Next Saturday Boys’ Latin will host Severn School, the only other unbeaten team in the MIAA B Conference standings. In fact, Severn, which routed Maret, 41-24, in a non-conference game on Friday, is one of the surprise teams in the state as the Admirals are 6-0 overall. The contest is huge because the winner can take a major step towards locking up a spot in the MIAA B Conference championship game, which will feature the top two teams in the standings.
The second straight league loss puts Pallotti in a very difficult position in its quest to defend the title it won a year ago. The Panthers, currently in fifth place, must win their three remaining league games and likely get some help to find their way into the top two.
NO. 16 BOYS’ LATIN SCHOOL 20, ST. VINCENT PALLOTTI 12
BL 0 7 7 6 — 20
SVP 0 6 0 6 — 12
BL – Brenden Crouse 5 run (Sam Grace kick)
SVP – Brandon Stewart 5 run (kick failed)
BL – Brenden Crouse 4 run (Sam Grace kick)
BL – Sam Grace 32 FG
BL – Sam Grace 24 FG
SVP — Jelani Foster 90 pass from Brandon Stewart (run failed)