After stunning Springbrook, 20-14, in its season opener, the Meade football team ventured to Annapolis on Friday night to prove to skeptics that last week's win over Montgomery County's perennial state power was no fluke.
The jury is still out.
The Mustangs hung tough against their Riva Road opponent but eventually dropped a 15-8 decision to the Panthers and thus opened new debate -- is Annapolis really that good?
Panthers coach Roy Brown thinks so.
"That was championship football, and we have the makings of a championship team," said Brown, whose Panthers dropped their opener, 18-17, last week to last year's 4A state champion Randallstown. "We have the makings, but it's a long year and there are a lot of good teams in our county. It's going to be a battle."
Friday night was no walk in the park for either squad.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Panthers' floundering offensive unit found the end zone ona 24-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Juan Johnson to junior Matt Criscimagna. Johnson's scoring strike was nearly picked off by Meade's Derrick Barr, but the ball popped loose and into Criscimagna's arms at the 3 for the easy score.
Clint Wilson kicked the extra point for the Panthers, who headed to their locker room at intermission leading by seven.
Meade's offensive woes carried over into the second half, and it wasn't until the fourth quarter that the Mustangs gained a field position conducive to scoring points.
Sophomore running back Kenny Walker, who rushed for 165 yards and three touchdowns in the opener, was reduced to a non-factor in the first half,as he gained a mere 15 yards on six carries.
Walker and the entire Meade offensive unit came into their own in the fourth quarter, following a 31-yard pass from John Oxendine to Jerald Johns that gave the visitors a first down at the Panthers' 41-yard line.
On the nextplay, Walker carried the ball around the right side for 22 yards to give his team excellent position just inside the Panthers' 20. Three plays later, the Mustangs found the end zone as Johns scored from 14 yards.
The Mustangs' fake extra-point attempt was successful, as the holder and backup quarterback Mike Fabyanic rolled right and fireda pass to Walker in the right corner of the end zone to make it an 8-6 ballgame with 6 minutes, 56 seconds showing on the clock.
Meade's celebration apparently woke up the Annapolis offense, as it immediately answered with a 68-yard, six-play scoring drive that was cappedby sophomore Jerry Thompson's 16-yard run. While Thompson got the glory, it was the Annapolis line and running back Ty Selby who were theworkhorses.
Jones hit running back Shawn Cole for the two-point conversion.
"I think the biggest problem was we had a few breaks and we didn't take advantage of them," Meade coach Hayse Henderson said. "Annapolis has a good squad, but I think we have a good squad, too.It was a hard-fought game, and the best team won today. Maybe another night."