Lakers excellent in all three phases as they win their MIAA B Conference opener, 27-13
by Gary Adornato
Coming in, Friday’s MIAA B Conference football game between No. 20 John Carroll and visiting Boys’ Latin appeared to feature two teams heading in opposite directions.
John Carroll was 3-0 in non-conference battles leading up to this league opener for both teams, while the Lakers were 0-3, opening with losses to Liberty, Loyola and Landon. However, Lakers’ head coach Ritchie Schell felt his squad improved each game and came in battle tested against three quality opponents.
He was right.
The Lakers, got strong performances in all three phases of the game and came away with an impressive 27-13 victory under the lights in Bel Air.
The offense was paced by sophomore quarterback Matt Greaver, who rushed for 72 yards and a touchdown and passed for 83 more and another TD. The defense limited John Carroll to a handful of big plays and scored a touchdown of its own, while senior kicker/punter Sam Grace helped the Lakers dominate the field position game.
Boys’ Latin (1-3, 1-0 MIAA B) sent an early signal that it came to play.
The Lakers took the opening kick and went 69 yards in just three plays, all rushes, with senior Jyair Thomas bursting around the right edge with a jet sweep and blazing 42-yards for the evening’s first touchdown, less than two minutes into the action.
Each team punted twice over the next four possessions, but John Carroll evened things up early in the second quarter.
On a third-and-three play from the John Carroll 32, Patriot senior quarterback Will Gianelli hit junior Austin Brinkman in stride, on a crossing pattern, and Brinkman advanced the ball 60 yards to the BL eight. One play later, Malik Scott burst through the left side of the line for an eight-yard scoring run, tying the game, 7-7.
Four more punts ensued, but Grace was winning that battle, backing John Carroll up to its own seven with 5:36 remaining in the first half. The Patriots went three-and-out and punted back to the Lakers, as they took over at the JC 35.
“Sam Grace was phenomenal,” said Boys’ Latin head coach Ritchie Schell. “Our kicker and punter is great. He’s been great all year. He’s a four sport athlete (football, soccer, basketball and baseball), so he’s phenomenal.”
On first down, Greaver rolled right and threw the ball down the right sideline for senior Nick Lizana, who got behind the secondary. Greaver’s pass was slightly under-thrown, but Lizana made an excellent adjustment, turning his back to the goal line to make the reception and then spinning and lunging for the end zone. The extra-point try was blocked, but Boys’ Latin went to the half with a 13-7 advantage.
Greaver credits hard work in practice for his and the team’s improvement.
“All week during practice, we practiced hard,” said Greaver. “We’ve been preaching all week, ‘good practice, good week and we’ll put points on the board.’ We’ve got talent.”
The game turned decidedly in the Lakers’ favor, midway through the third quarter, when John Carroll gambled on a fourth-and-two from its own 28. The BL defense made the stop giving the offense another short field. The Lakers quickly moved inside the 10, but the drive stalled at the seven and BL lined up for a 24-yard field goal attempt. John Carroll, however, jumped offsides, giving Boys’ Latin a first-and-goal at the two. Greaver made John Carroll pay for the mistake, scoring on a two-yard run, giving the Lakers a commanding 20-7 lead.
John Carroll kept things interesting, as it scored early in the fourth quarter. Sophomore quarterback Scott Smith, who played the majority of the second half, hit on a big 34-yard pass play to junior Dominic Berdnt to give the Pats a fist down at the BL 11. Two plays later, Smith ran seven yards for a touchdown and John Carroll was back within seven at 20-13.
Boys’ Latin managed one first down on its next drive, before punting back to back to the Patriots, with Grace again pinning them deep, at the JC 13. On second down, Josh Jones sacked Smith, forcing a fumble that was scooped up by junior Justin Waters, who returned it 15-yards for a game-clinching TD.
“It was kicked to me, I picked it up, and we’ve been practicing that everyday on the turnover circuit,” said Waters of his big play. “Credit to Coach (Alphonso) Biggers.”
Schell is pleased with the progress he is seeing in his young team.
“It was a great game and John Carroll is a very good team,” stated Schell. “We’ve played some very good teams and we haven’t played extremely well, but we came to play today.
“We have four sophomores starting on the offensive line. We’re getting better and Matt Greaver, our quarterback, is a tremendous athlete. He just did a nice job. He’s throwing the ball better each week. If he can continue that, we’ll be alright.”
Senior Josh Pugh added 53 yards rushing for Boys’ Latin, on eight carries, while Lizana made three catches for 47 yards. Roman Hemby and Scott combined for 80 yards on the ground for the Patriots.
John Carroll head coach Ken Brinkman gave Boys’ Latin credit for its performance.
“Ritchie is a good coach. He had his team well prepared,” said Brinkman. “I think they capitalized on some mistakes we had. We didn’t capitalize. We had three chances on turnovers that bounced right back to them, but take nothing back from BL; they came to play tonight.”
Despite the setback, Brinkman expects his squad to bounce back.
“We can look at it two ways. There are good losses and bad losses. Hopefully this one wakes us up and we continue the rest of the year and do what we need to do.”
Pictured above: Boys’ Latin quarterback (#4) Matt Greaver looks to throw downfield in the Lakers 27-13 win over John Carroll.
BOYS’ LATIN 27, NO. 20 JOHN CARROLL 13
BL 7 6 7 7 — 27
JC 0 7 0 6 — 13
BL – Jyair Thomas 42 run (Sam Grace kick)
JC – Malik Scott 8 run (Garrett Phillips kick)
BL – Nick Lizana 35 pass from Matt Greaver (kick blocked)
Greaver 2 run (Grace kick)
JC – Scott Smith 7 run (kick failed)
BL – Justin Waters 15 fumble return (Grace kick)