Cougars show flashes, but big plays doom them in loss to Warriors

Sep. 1—THURMONT — There were plenty of highlights produced in the first football game ever played on Catoctin's new turf field.

The Cougars had their share on both sides of the ball. But their defense gave up untimely chunk plays to Boonsboro and their offense came up short at crucial times.

Despite taking a four-point lead into the final five minutes, Catoctin soon found itself trailing by 10 and ended up dropping its season opener 24-20 to the Warriors on Friday.

A pair of short touchdown runs by 5-foot-9, 216-pound power back Danioun Dodson in the final 4 minutes, 41 seconds all but sealed the win for a Warriors team that hadn't led since late in the first half.

"We did some good things, we just made too many mistakes," Cougars coach Mike Rich said. "That's a good football team. They'll be a top three team in our region, and we hope to be in that conversation, too."

Catoctin's defense looked stout when it made two successful stands inside the 10. The first one came when Catoctin defensive lineman Ethan Robeson recovered a Boonsboro fumble on a first-and-goal from the 3 on the first play of the fourth quarter.

The other one came when Charles Dougherty deflected a pass away in the left side of the end zone on a fourth-and-3 play from Catoctin's 5 with 8:23 left in the fourth.

While those stops preserved Catoctin's 14-10 lead, Boonsboro's penchant for long-yardage plays resurfaced. Only instead of coming on a pitch to someone like Chad Wyand, who had a 67-yard TD dash late in the first half, the Warriors connected for their first big pass play of the night.

Colin Telemeco completed a 30-yard pass to Mason Murphy at the 1. Dodson then used a second-effort surge to pound into the end zone, giving the Warriors a 17-14 lead with 4:41 left.

Catoctin's offense showed an ability to move the ball in the air or on the ground. Quarterback Haydn Mathews threw for 235 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and running back Jake Bell rushed for 99 yards and one touchdown, which came on a 31-yard dash.

But on the ensuing drive, a dropped pass on fourth down gave the ball back to Boonsboro with 3:31 left.

Wyand had a 20-yard run to help set up Dodson's 5-yard TD run, which gave the Warriors an insurmountable 24-14 lead.

"Mental mistakes in that game, but we can't harp on that. I've got to be proud of my boys," Mathews said. "We gave it everything we had to the last possible play."

True enough. Mathews threw a 39-yard scoring pass to Hunter Bradshaw, who got open on the left side of the field, with 18.7 seconds left.

"I was supposed to run a post," Bradshaw said. "But my quarterback realized that the corner was on the other side, so he directed me and it was like backyard football."

As a linebacker, Bradshaw also came up with several big plays for a defense that often bottled up Boonsboro. Aside from the game's opening possession, the Warriors often had drives stall.

But every now and then, players like Wyand would break loose for a big gain, be it out of the backfield or on kick returns.

"We're going to watch a lot of film, see what we did right, what we did wrong," Bradshaw said. "Correct what we did wrong."

Catoctin's first two plays from scrimmage were scoring plays, although not for the same team.

Starting its first possession on the 1, Catoctin got stuffed in the end zone for a safety.

On the first play of the Cougars' second possession, Mathews put nice touch on a long spiral to Logan Malachowski, who hauled in the pass on the left side and raced into the end zone to complete a 83-yard touchdown pass.

"Haydn played well. He made some plays for us," Rich said. "His growth path over the past couple of years has been really good, and that's going to continue more this season as he plays."

Mathews credited his line for giving him ample time to throw, and pass plays and that same line gave Bell some running room.

"The more that they respected our pass game and the more that they kind of dropped back deep, the more that we could kind of get the run game going a little bit," Rich said.

Still, the Cougars left the field disappointed.

"We've got the heart to do it. We all wanted it," Mathews said. "Sometimes it doesn't go in your favor."