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Patuxent got all it could handle from the county rival Northern Patriots.

In the end, the host Panthers won their third-straight game to start the season with a 42-23 win on Friday night.

Patuxent (3-0, 1-0 SMAC) led just 14-10 at halftime but scored on its first four possessions of the second half to put the game away. A fifth possession consisted of a kneel down to run out the clock.

“Northern's definitely a better team than they were last year,” Patuxent head coach Steve Crounse said. “They're a disciplined team and they did a good job of running the double wing. The kids are pretty excited about running the double wing and you could tell that by the way they came out and they gave us all we could handle in the beginning.”

Patuxent junior running back Rafiq Douglas gave plenty of props to the Patriots.

“They came out ready to play today and I think our team wasn't really expecting them as hard as they were,” he said. “They're a good football team, honestly, I really think so. They came out and played hard and I told our team, ‘We're going to be in a dogfight.’ Maybe our team thought [the Patriots] were going to lay down for us, but they came out and played hard.”

The Patriots (1-2, 1-1), who fell in overtime in Week 1 before winning a shootout over Leonardtown the following week, gave the Panthers fits in their single wing enough so Patuxent went to a spread offense in the second half.

“They're one of the best teams in the state, no doubt about it,” Northern head coach A.J. Berberian said. “From that standpoint you can take something [positive] away from it, but we knew they were a tough football team coming in and I don't know how many teams are going to score 23 on them.”

Patuxent scored the first three touchdowns of the second half as quarterback Trey Lee scored on a six-yard run and then hooked up with A.C. Crawford for a six-yard scoring toss. Tyler Crounse’s 16-yard scamper in the first minute of the fourth quarter put the Panthers ahead to stay, 35-10.

“He's been around the program since he was five so he's lived and died with every loss and victory so for him to get an opportunity to get out on the field as a parent I was excited and for me as a coach I'm excited because he brings a lot to the table,” nSteve Crounse said of his son. “He's a good athlete and a good passer and he has a good future.”

Patuxent rushed for 347 yards on 32 carries (10.8 average). The Patriots mustered just 109 yards on the ground.

“I'm personally happy with the way we played,” said Patuxent junior linebacker Austin Criss, who tied with teammate James Hall with nine tackles apiece. Geoff Ricker had a team-high 11. “Our linebackers did a good job of filling in. We noticed in film that the guards and tackles were pulling, so if we saw that. our linebackers were going to have to get downhill and our defensive level was going to hit and read.”

Crounse and Lee combined to complete 9 of 13 passes for 148 yards. Douglas was a huge beneficiary of the offensive line’s prowess as he rushed for 155 yards on just 11 carries.

“Our line, they did a thing out there tonight,” Douglas said. “I couldn't have done anything without them, so hat's off to them. They played hard and got the blocks for me.”

Crounse’s scoring run was set up by Criss, who chased down Northern quarterback Taylor Wagner enough that Wagner’s pass was intercepted by Joey Parsons.

“I hurried him into the throw,” Criss said. “Coach [Anthony] Barone said, ‘If you see the guards cut block, I'm supposed to fill and get right to the quarterback.’ I tried to get some pressure on the quarterback and I got enough to almost get the ball.”

After a scoreless first quarter, Patuxent opened the scoring on Douglas’ four-yard scoring run. The 15-play, 70-yard drive was kept alive when Lee wormed his way for eight yards on a fourth down and 3 gamble.

Later, Lee ripped off a 42-yard run only to be brought down on a touchdown-saving tackle by Dexter Gatling. The Panthers were later forced to punt. Late in the game, Gatling, a senior defensive back and running back, suffered a neck injury. He was immobilized and taken away by ambulance. His status was not known at press time.

Northern took the ensuing punt and, on its second play from scrimmage, receiver Adam Swann hauled in a 57-yard bomb from Wagner. On the next play, Mason Cox went around the left end for a 33-yard score.

But the enthusiasm of tying the game was short-lived. Patuxent took over on its own 27 and Douglas took the handoff on a trap play and broke free for a 73-yard touchdown to bring the crowd to its feet.

“I just lowered my shoulders and somebody touched me, but after that, I just put on the speed,” Douglas said. That was a big momentum swing for our team. We started getting the hype and the swag back after that.”

“Our kids kept their heads up,” Berberian insisted. “It wasn't a killer, but we knew they had some athletes and if you don't get the tackle right away and they get through your box, it's pretty tough to get them in open space.”

Northern managed a 29-yard field goal by Andrew Rexroth with eight seconds left in the half. The 78-yard drive was kept alive when the Panthers were called for running into the kicker on fourth and 13, which gave the Patriots a fresh set of downs. The field goal gave the Patriots some momentum back heading into the break but it was all Patuxent over the final 24 minutes.

“Their athletes were a little bit better than our athletes tonight,” Berberian said. “We gave them everything we had; they were the better team tonight.”

“ “We have a lot of weapons,” Steve Crounse said. “It may take us a little while sometimes but we started to utilize them. We stuck to the plan and we did some different things at halftime and tried to use our athleticism and that was the difference.”

mreid@somdnews.com

Patuxent 42, Northern 23

Northern 0 10 0 13

Patuxent 0 14 14 14

Second quarter

P Douglas 4 run (Chaconas kick), 2:13

N Cox 33 run ( Rexroth kick), 8:36

P Douglas 73 run (Chaconas kick), 8:48

N FG Rexroth 29, 11:52

Third quarter

P Lee 6 run (Chaconas kick), 2:57

P Crawford 6 pass from Lee (Chaconas kick), 10:19

Fourth quarter

P Crounse 16 run (Chaconas kick), :54

N Wagner 2 run (pass failed), 6:43

P Hall 49 run (Chaconas kick), 7:56

N Grimwood 17 pass from Wagner (Rexroth kick), 11:47

Team stats

N (10 first downs, 36-109 rushing, 173 passing, 0-0 fumbles, 0-0 penalties)

P (8 first downs, 32-347 rushing, 148 passing, 0-0 fumbles, 6-65 penalties)

Rushing N: Cox 6-45, Harrison 7-24, Hunter 2-14; P: Douglas 11-155, Lee 11-85, Crawford 7-77

Passing N: Wagner 4-8-1 173; P: Crounse 5-7-0 89, Lee 4-6-0 59

Receiving N: Swann 3-156, Grimwood 1-17; P: Douglas 3-62, Gross 1-34, Lee 2-28