In nature, the dog usually chases and sometimes catches the cat.
But when the Bulldogs of Southern chased the Wilde Lake Wildecats on Saturday afternoon, they ran into a Wall.
Senior running back Raphael Wall rushed for a game-high 155 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries as the defending Howard County League champions blanked visiting Southern, 34-0, in a non-league football game.
"You can't take anything away from them; they're just a very good football team," said Southern head coach Buck Gardner. "They're a well-coached team and they have a lot of talent. We'll just have to regroup and get ready next week."
The 3-0 Wildecats (2A state semi-finalists in 1989) notched their first score at the 5:53 mark of the first period on an 8-yard-run by quarterback Mike Jones. And just before the end of the quarter, Wall bulled his way through the Bulldog defense for an 8-yard scoring jaunt. Wall's running mate, Damon Hamlin (15 carries, 67 yards), set up Wall's first score on a 19-yard burst.
"He (Wall, the Baltimore area's leading rusher) is an excellent back. But I think we made him look even better," said Gardner.
The Bulldogs (2-1) had difficulty moving the football. A quick, aggressive Wilde Lake defense limited the Southern offense to just two first downs and 53 yards of total offense for the game. Steve Griner lead Southern with 36 yards on 11 carries.
"I think we let them intimidate us. Especially in the first half. It wasn't until the second half that we found out that we could play with them, but by then it was a little too late," said Gardner.
In the beginning of the second quarter, on fourth and 10 from their own 39, Southern attempted a fake punt. Clayton Pinkney's 8-yard run fell short of the first-down marker, and the Cats took over at the 47.
Forty-six yards later, the Wildecats encountered a little misfortune of their own when Jones fumbled the exchange from center Ben Cotter. Bulldog defensive tackle Sam Makell pounced on the football on the 1, halting the Wilde Lake drive.
On the ensuing possession, Griner found a crack of daylight in the 'Cats defense. On his way to an apparent first down, the senior running back was stripped of the ball, and junior linebacker Brent Guyton fell on it at the 10. Wall bolted into the end zone on the first play, and junior kicker David Lubitz added his third extra point of the afternoon to give Wilde Lake a 21-0 cushion.
"Our defense has been strong all year," said Wilde Lake head coach Doug DuVall. "Our defensive backs did an exceptional job; I was very pleased with the effort of the entire team."
After a 26-yard punt by sophomore Jayme Block, the 'Cats used a seven-play, 52-yard march to take a 27-0 lead, as Wall crashed over the goal line from the 2. Junior defensive back Chris Boston blocked the extra-point kick just before the end of the first half.
"I think we were too tight. The kids knew that it was a big game, we (the Southern coaching staff) had been preaching that to them all week long. We'll be back, we've got an excellent group of kids. It's not over yet," said Gardner.
After a scoreless third quarter, Hamlin added an insurance touchdown for the Wildecats on a 1-yard plunge on fourth and goal.
"We've still got a long way to go this season," said DuVall, who's team is ranked fourth in the Baltimore metro area. "Our league is very tough; every single game will be a battle.