It was as though Seneca Valley running back Shawn Perry released nearly a month's worth of restlessness into two breakneck quarters on Friday night.
Perry, who had missed the previous three games with an elbow injury, proved his return was well worth the wait for Seneca Valley. He rushed for 202 yards on 20 carries and scored all four of his touchdowns in the second half during a 29-21 victory over Gaithersburg.
The Screamin' Eagles (6-1) had sputtered on offense early, with penalties derailing key drives and sending them into halftime down, 14-0. Perry had only one carry in the first half and, it became apparent to Coach Fred Kim, that would have to change if the Eagles were to have a chance.
"I remember talking to him at halftime and saying, 'Buddy, we're going to put the ball in your hands and try to get the run game going,'" Kim said. "I didn't think we were going to score 29 points. We just wanted to establish our run game."
But Perry took it a few steps further, almost single-handedly taking over the game. He ran for an 11-yard score in the third quarter, opened up the fourth with a two-yarder, then scored on runs of 25 and 77 yards, as Seneca Valley took a 29-14 lead.
"He makes a big difference when he's in there," Kim said. "Him coming back helps us a lot. He's a great running back. He has great vision, he plays hard and he runs with such a sense of urgency and enthusiasm. He's not the most talented running back. He's not 6 foot 4, 225 pounds. He makes things happen."
No Easy Feat
At times, top-ranked Damascus has made it look almost too easy while jumping out to a 7-0 record this season. But it certainly hasn't been because of a lack of competition.
With their 25-7 win over No. 10 Sherwood on Friday night, the Swarmin' Hornets walked away with their third convincing win over a ranked opponent on the road this season. They defeated No. 17 Quince Orchard, 35-14, on Oct. 10 and knocked off No. 15 Linganore, 28-7, on Sept. 23.
The stands were packed with partisan fans at both Quince Orchard and Sherwood, and in both instances Damascus performed a veritable clinic on how to take a crowd out of a game early.
The Hornets scored on a 12-play, 68-yard, drive to open up against Sherwood, running more than six minutes off the clock. They recovered a Sherwood fumble on the first play of the ensuing possession and capped the drive with a 35-yard run by Steven Anderson, his second touchdown of the game. The Hornets scored on their next drive as well, and took an 18-7 lead into the half.
Against Quince Orchard, Damascus recovered three straight squib kicks and scored on each of the following drives, taking a 28-0 lead into halftime.
"Most of these guys have been in [the big games], and they don't get rattled because of that," Anderson said. "That's definitely an advantage to us. These guys came out, we're at [a visiting] stadium, with a ton of fans here. We just feed off the crowd."
Springbrook Plays Spoiler
With its 14-7 win over Whitman on Saturday, Springbrook knocked off one of the county's hottest teams. Springbrook's Pat Overton caught a 31-yard pass on a fake punt that set up Adou Koaudio's six-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter and kept the Blue Devils' (4-3) playoff hopes alive.
Whitman (3-4) entered the game having defeated Northwest and Bethesda-Chevy Chase in succession, and had launched back into the playoff picture.