Roy Brown insisted heading into Friday night's football matchup with Arundel that his 0-2 Panthers were not in must-win situation.
"It's a big game because it's the first league game and Arundel is 2-0, but it's not critical," the Annapolis football coach said earlier in the week.
While Brown minimized the importance of Friday night's contest, the Panthers needed to maximize their vast potential in the fourth quarter to slip past the upstart Wildcats, 7-3.
"I knew it wasn't going to be easy," Brown said. "Arundel has a great ballclub and they came here undefeated. We just did what we had to to win."
Arundel's play in the first half was a clear reflection of its 2-0 record. The Wildcats moved the ball at will against the Panthers' defense but only managed to pick up three points when senior Rodney Stevens split the uprights from 26 yards out.
On the 13-play scoring drive, Arundel quarterback Jeff Bayne made good on a pair of passes to Tony Watson and Jeff Beard that covered 33 and 17 yards, respectively.
Arundel managed to move the ball to the Annapolis 13-yard line following a fumble recovery but a fake field-goal attempt on a fourth-and-two had nobody fooled.
Annapolis running back Eric Tooles nearly broke one in the closing moments of the first half but was brought down at midfield after a 29-yard pickup. The Panthers' scoring threat was short-lived, however, as Beard intercepted a Darryl Foote pass to preserve the Wildcats' 3-0 halftime margin.
Arundel had its opportunities to close the door on the Panthers in the second half but failed to convert on them.
"Both teams made mistakes but we didn't capitalize on them," said Arundel coach Buddy Hepfer. "That was the difference in the ballgame. We were one play away from winning."
One mistake that almost cost the Wildcats was a punt snap that sailed well over the head of Bayne. Fortunately for the visitors, Annapolis' Foote missed on four straight pass attempts and handed the ball right back to them.
Annapolis' offense saved its best drive of the day for the fourth quarter when in eight plays it traveled 57 yards for the winning touchdown.
The Panthers, who have made it a habit of making nothing look easy, finally put the ball in the end zone on a fourth-and-seven when Foote found Carlos Evans for the strike. Evans, who was covered like a blanket by a Wildcat defender, went up high and literally took the ball away from him. "He (Evans) was covered well but just came up with the ball," said Hepfer. "That was the play."
The Severn football team improved to 3-1 Friday night with a 35-7 victory over host Chincoteague of Virginia.
Daniel Wu rushed 11 times for 144 yards and two touchdowns. Jason Wade had 11 carries for 102 yards and two touchdowns.
Quarterback Kyong So was 4-of-9 for 73 yards and one touchdown, a 15-yard strike to Jake Mack.