Led by senior tackle Mark Wallace, who tips the scale at 315 pounds, the Patuxent High School football team's linemen average more than 235 pounds. Friday night, the Panthers used that size to destroy Chopticon, 61-14, before a crowd of about 1,000 in Lusby.
Running behind Wallace, Andy Weldon, Sean Connell, Ben Dansberger, Joe Ripple and tight end Jerell Ennis, Patuxent gained more than 250 yards on the ground. Sophomore running back Terry Caulley carried the ball 16 times for 187 yards and four touchdowns and senior running back Anthony Baldwin rushed seven times for 54 yards and one touchdown.
"I've said from the beginning that the strength of this team is the offensive and defensive lines," said Panthers Coach Joe Esposito, whose team led at halftime, 41-14. "This is the biggest and most experienced line we've ever had. They've really been handling people this season."
Patuxent improved to 4-0 overall, 2-0 in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference. Chopticon fell to 1-3, 0-2.
The Panthers also got a strong performance from senior quarterback Judd Vail, who had a 5-yard touchdown run and completed four passes to Pat Martin for 51 yards and one touchdown.
"We set out every week to run the football," said Esposito, whose team rushed for more than 200 yards in the first half. "But like I said before, we're looking to be more multidimensional. We ran the ball very well, but I thought we threw the ball decent, too."
Chopticon got on the scoreboard first as junior quarterback Jamar Mason threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Gary Thomas, but Patuxent scored 21 unanswered points and led 21-7 after one quarter.
The Panthers then put the game out of reach, scoring three touchdowns in the second quarter and taking a 41-7 lead. Caulley scored on runs of 5 and 28 yards and Josh Welborn's interception return set up a 1-yard jaunt by Baldwin.
Chopticon cut the lead to 41-14 in the closing seconds of the first half as Mason hit junior wide receiver Marcus Estep on fourth and goal from the Patuxent 5-yard line. But in the opening minutes of the third quarter, Patuxent scored on a blocked punt by Derek Passagno and a 23-yard scamper by Caulley. The Panthers put the game away on an 86-yard fumble return by Welborn.
"It was one of those nights where everything went right," said Esposito, whose team ran only two offensive plays in the second half. "We ran the ball well, our defense played well and we got some nice plays from our special teams."
Patuxent's defense, which held Chopticon to six first downs in the second half, was led by Welborn, Baldwin, Ricky Mason, Mike Brown and Luis Perez.
NOTES: Chopticon was playing without injured junior standout Jamie Byroads.
Chopticon (1-3, 0-2) 7 7 0 0--14
Patuxent (4-0, 2-0) 21 20 14 6--61
C--Thomas 19 pass from J. Mason (S. Mason kick)
P--Vail 5 run (Connell kick)
P--Martin 1 pass from Vail (Connell kick)
P--Caulley 19 run (Connell kick)
P--Caulley 28 run (Connell kick)
P--Caulley 5 run (kick failed)
P--Baldwin 1 run (Connell kick)
C--Estep 5 pass from J. Mason (S. Mason kick)
P--Passagno 6 blocked punt (Connell kick)
P--Caulley 23 run (Connell kick)
P--Welborn 84 fumble return (kick failed)
LEADING RUSHERS--C: Showalter 13-43, Pettie 7-56, Courtney 11-42; P: Caulley 16-187, Baldwin 7-54.
LEADING PASSERS--C: Mason 6-18-3 78 yards; P: Vail 4-4-0 51 yards.
LEADING RECEIVERS--C: Estep 2-31, Thomas 2-29, Palko 2-18; P: Martin 4-51.
CAPTION: Patuxent sophomore running back Terry Caulley gets tackled by the Chopticon defense. Caulley ran for 187 yards and four touchdowns Friday night.
CAPTION: Chopticon senior Tony McGee dashes downfield.