In a rain drenched tug of war in Roland Park, Friday afternoon, No. 15 St. Vincent Pallotti, led by senior running back Jaret Patterson, scored 21 fourth quarter points to pull away from 18th-ranked Boys’ Latin, 35-14, clinching the Panthers’ place in the 2016 MIAA B Conference championship game.
Both teams entered the day sharing the regular season lead in the B Conference with identical 4-0 league records. BL (5-3, 4-1) had already clinched it’s spot in the championship game, which will take place on Nov. 12th at Archbishop Spalding. Thus, the Panthers (7-2, 5-0) and Lakers will meet again.
Patterson and a couple of huge plays made by the Pallotti defense proved to be the difference. The speedy Patterson, a senior who will play at the University of Buffalo next year, burned the Boys’ Latin defense for 207 yards rushing on 23 carries and a pair of touchdowns.
The game turned early in the fourth quarter when BL, with the contest tied 14-14, was forced to punt from deep in its own territory and Pallotti took over at the Laker 35-yard line. On first down, Patterson ran for 10 yards and then went 25 yards, on the second snap of the series, for his second touchdown of the game, giving the Panthers a 21-14 lead.
“I’ve got to give credit to my offensive line. We go to work everyday in practice,” said Patterson. “So, this performance is on my offensive line. I give credit to them.”
On the ensuing series, Boys’ Latin quickly drove from its own 22 to the Pallotti 32, as quarterback Brenden Crouse completed 4-of-6 passes for 35 yards. But on a second-and-10 from the Panther 32, a Crouse pass intended for Seth Nance fell incomplete behind the line of scrimmage and was not blown dead. Warren Dixon scooped up the loose ball for the Panthers and raced down the left sideline for a 62-yard touchdown return, and a 28-14 Pallotti advantage.
Boys’ Latin’s final possession ended with a turnover on downs at the Laker 39 and 3 minutes, 39 seconds remaining. Pallotti was able to wind the clock down before scoring its final touchdown, a 6-yard run by freshman Blake Corum. It was Corum’s second score of the contest, as he ran 19 times for 62 yards.
Corum also deflected credit to the big guys up front.
“I have to give credit to my offensive line. Without them, Jaret and I wouldn’t do nothing,” said Corum. “I had a few good runs.”
The defenses dominated the first half, much of which was played in heavy rain. Over the first four series, the teams traded four punts, but Pallotti gradually gained a field position advantage, beginning their third possession at the BL 42. From there, it took the Panthers just five plays to reach the end zone with Patterson scoring his first touchdown on an 11-yard run.
Boys’ Latin fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Pallotti was suddenly back in business at the Laker 32, leading 7-0. The Panthers inched their way inside the BL 10, but eventually were forced to settle for a a 21-yard field goal attempt by Tyler Lilja, setting up a very unfortunate turn of events for the Lakers.
Boys’ Latin’s Jake Schneider rushed off the edge to block the kick and teammate Dejuan Felder gathered up the loose ball, 10-yards free of his nearest pursuer. As Felder began to run towards a certain touchdown, an official blew an inadvertent whistle, stopping the play in its tracks. By rule, the ball was placed where it was at the time of the whistle, leaving the Lakers at their own 24, with eight seconds to play in the opening quarter.
The Lakers did manage to drive into the red zone, but the drive stalled and they missed a 21-yard field goal, as they still trailed 7-0.
The game got a little sloppy from that point. Pallotti had a 69-yard touchdown run by Patterson called back by a holding call. One play later, Panther quarterback Brandon Stewart was intercepted by Koby Russell of the Lakers. Later in the quarter, Corum lost a fumble that was recovered by BL’s Patrick McDermott. Two plays later, however, Nance lost a fumble, recovered by Pallotti’s Patterson, while fighting for extra yardage after a reception, and the game went to the half with Panther’s maintaining their 7-0 lead.
BL opened the second half with a 35-yard kick return by Devon Brewer and Crouse came out on fire in the third quarter, going 4-for-4 on a four play 45-yard drive, capped with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Banks, tying the contest, 7-7. Crouse completed 19-of-35 passes for 260 yards in the game, with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
After the Laker defense got the ball back, the Lakers appeared to be seizing the momentum, only to cede it right back to the Panthers. On a second down play from the Laker 22, 290-pound Pallotti nose tackle Jehlani Dennis-Gray sniffed out a screen pass and made a nifty leaping grab, before returning the pick 21 yards to the Boys’ Latin one. That led to a 1-yard TD run by Corum, pushing the Panthers back on top, 14-7.
“I saw the lineman take a step. They pushed me up field and I knew it was a screen,” said Dennis-Gray of what he saw prior to his interception. “I picked it out of the air and tried to go all the way, but I didn’t find my blockers all the way.”
Boys’ Latin made one more run at the Panthers after stopping Pallotti on on downs at the BL 33. Jump-started by a 28-yard run by Josh Pugh, the Lakers drove 67 yards in five plays, with Crouse completing an 11-yard strike, through a narrow window, to Lizana for the Lakers’ second touchdown. BL was then successful with an onside kick and driving back to the Pallotti red zone. The Panther defense, however, came up big again, as Dylan Powell thwarted the drive with an interception.
The Panthers played the contest without their head coach Ian Thomas, who was serving a mandatory one game suspension after being ejected from last week’s game at John Carroll. Acting head coach Ambrose Phillips believes the Pallotti defense was the difference in this victory.
“We were having some tough go on offense. We knew our defense was going to have to step up, so we made some adjustments,” said Phillips. “We had trouble containing their quarterback. We started putting some more pressure on to contain him and then we made sure we stayed with our receivers to create some situations where we could make some big plays.
“Finally we were able to create some traction; we were able to create some turnovers and change the momentum. Those were huge plays for us.”
NO. 15 ST. VINCENT PALLOTTI 35, NO. 18 BOYS’ LATIN 14
SVP 7 0 7 21 — 35
BL 0 0 14 0 — 14
SVP – Jaret Patterson 11 run (Tyler Lilja kick)
BL – Desmond Banks 10 pass Brendan Crouse (Crouse kick)
SVP – Blake Corum 1 run (Lilja kick)
BL – Nick Lizana 11 pass from Crouse (Crouse kick)
SVP – Patterson 25 run (Lilja kick)
SVP – Warren Dixon 62 fumble return (Lilja kick)
SVP – Corum 6 run (Lilja kick)
Cover photo courtesy of VarsityViews.