The Cougars made a remarkable play Friday night to give themselves a shot at a 3-0 start and a home victory over Severna Park, but a costly fumble squandered that chance as they lost to the Falcons, 20-16.
The first quarter was marred by miscues on both sides. Severna Park defender Bryce Marin picked off a Tyler Clark pass near midfield to give his team good field position. The Falcons couldn’t take advantage, and they ultimately botched the snap on the punt attempt, allowing Chesapeake to recover the live ball and take it downfield. Facing a key third down later on that drive, Clark fired a pass past the goal line, but Corey Bodnar was there for the Falcons to prevent the reception. The field goal attempt missed the mark.
Chesapeake forced another stop and got on the board first when Cougars quarterback Tyler Clark rushed up the middle for a 1-yard score early in the second quarter. Zach Baumann tacked on the extra point to make the score 7-0. Daniel Rausch fell on a fumble to get the ball back for Chesapeake, but their next drive ended in a blocked punt recovered by Severna Park’s Colin Shadowens. The Falcons answered this time, getting a few blocks to spring Shadowens for more than 40 yards down the left sideline. With a push from his offensive line, Seamus Patenaude took it the last three yards to tie the game at 7-7 following the extra point.
It was the first start for Patenaude, a freshman.
“He brings a lot to the table as far as mobility in the backfield, and I was hoping that would help out, and it did initially, but once our other running back went down, it was tough to move the ball,” Severna Park head coach Mike Wright said after the game. “I was really proud of him. I was proud of the two seniors who played before him. It’s not like this is lack of effort. We have to get some things squared away and learn from it.”
Starting with that touchdown, fortunes turned in the Falcons’ favor. A snap sailed over the head of Clark, and Kaleb Blackwell took advantage for Severna Park, scooping up the ball and returning it 44 yards for a score. The Falcons weren’t done. On the ensuing possession, they batted a Clark pass into the air and into the arms of Jordan Robinson, who made the interception. Demetrius Powell took a handoff and showed some impressive moves, spinning through tackles en route to the end zone and another Severna Park score that put the visitors up 20-7.
Robinson said the Falcons’ intensity was the result of a tough week of practice following early-season losses to North County and Arundel.
“Coach made sure we knew our assignments, our energy was good, and we had our heads on straight,” Robinson said. “Practice was amazing.”
The next Cougar possession led to another turnover as Clark fired a pass down the middle of the field, where Falcon Brett Butz was waiting. The defense did its part to make a stop, but after a few positive plays by the Cougars, the Severna Park defense stepped up again, flushing Clark from the pocket and swarming him immediately for negative yardage. The senior quarterback showed poise, though. Facing third-and-22, Clark lofted a beautiful pass down the right sideline to his 6-foot-6 target, Alonzo Wilkes. Another big play led to another stalled drive as a Clark’s intended receiver slipped on third down and Marin nearly had his second interception. The Cougars opted to settle for a field goal, but that was blocked.
Strong defensive play ruled the third quarter. The Cougars recovered a Falcon fumble on the Chesapeake 24-yard line. But the Falcons were equally impressive. Ben Morgan sacked Clark, and then an incompletion on a screen pass forced Chesapeake to punt. The teams traded field position. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Clark dropped back and lofted a 53-yard pass to Wilkes, who hauled in the ball for the touchdown, bringing the deficit to 20-14 after the extra point. Severna Park took possession with 11:48 to play. They punted on their next possession after recovering their own fumble and pinned the Cougars deep in their own territory.
That’s when Chesapeake called the perfect play when it was needed most. Clark threw a short pass to his right, where Wilkes was waiting. But after snaring the pass, Wilkes quickly pitched the ball behind him to Victor Listorti, who raced down the sideline, making it all the way to the Severna Park 10-yard line. The hook-and-ladder play put the Cougars in prime position to take the lead. Needing a score, Chesapeake turned to their run game. But in a game full of mistakes, this one proved to be the costliest as the Cougars coughed up the football.
“Their kid banged a 70- or 80-yard punt, so it pinned us deep and the clock was running out, so we had to take a shot, and the hook-and-ladder worked for us,” said Chesapeake head coach Rob Elliott. “We just didn’t get it in. We get down to the 10 and turn it over first play after that, so a great play means nothing if you turn it over after that.”
They would get one more chance to score, with only 15 seconds left after Severna Park ran down the clock and ran backward into the end zone for an intentional safety to make the score 20-16. The Cougars got a short completion as time expired.
Chesapeake will look to fix its mistakes before a showdown with St. Paul’s School next Saturday.
“We have to find a solution to putting the ball on the ground or throwing it to the other team,” Elliott said. “We had five or six turnovers, so we didn’t deserve this game. Congratulations to Severna Park. They played better than we did.”
Severna Park enjoyed the win, but Wright said his team also needs improvement with tough opponents Meade and Old Mill next on the schedule.
“This was a big one,” Wright said. “Our defense is playing really good football right now. Our offense just can’t quite go the whole game. They’ll sputter and go and then they’ll light it up, and then they’ll sputter and go, so to be able to do that and pull out a W is really a good thing. These kids have worked hard, they have busted their butts for it, and I was just so happy they were able to do it.”