Lawson's Raiders probably will learn the ropes of touch football before the season is over -- if the team hasn't been hung from them by then.
Lawson's, a first-year entrant in the Touch Football League, which plays at Deer Park Middle School in Randallstown, Baltimore County, fell to 0-4 Sunday morning with a heartbreaking 14-13 loss to the Broncos.
Lawson's should have won because it dominated the game, except for two quick drives that resulted in Bronco scores.
And it might have, if quarterback Bill Sipes' desperation pass into the end zone on the game's final play had not been slightly deflected and slipped through the fingers of a Lawson's receiver.
"It was a tough game to swallow. We should have pulled that one out," said Sipes, who also coaches the team.
However, it has been a predictably rough campaign for Lawson's, which is undergoing the inevitable growing pains of a rookie team.
The squad, about half of which is comprised of players from Carroll County, has yet to develop the cohesion needed to win inthe 20-team TFL.
"We don't execute. The receivers and quarterbackhave to work better together," said Sipes, a Hampstead resident and 1983 Liberty High grad.
Sipes underscored that point with an animated post-game discussion with one of his receivers on why things are going wrong with the passing.
"When we get to the big play, we need to execute it," he said afterward.
After losing by large marginsin each of its first three losses against some of the league's better teams, Lawson's had an ideal opportunity to break into the win column Sunday.
The Broncs also entered the contest 0-3.
The Carroll-based team controlled the ball in the first half, keeping it in the Broncos' end most of the time.
Yet they led only 7-0 at intermission.
That score came on Sipes' 8-yard keeper near the end of the first half.
Luck then intervened on the extra point play. Sipes' pass was batted into the air and end Don Snider snagged it for the conversion.
Things were understandably cheery on the Lawson's sideline during the five-minute halftime break.
"You guys keep doing the same thing," Sipes said to his teammates.
Alas, they didn't.
The Broncos tied it on their first possession of the second half, but Lawson's came right back with a scoring drive of their own.
Sipes culminated the drive with a bullet-like 15-yard pass to Snider, a fellow1983 Liberty grad, making it 13-7, Lawson's.
But the conversion failed, a crucial failure it turned out.
The Broncos later drove for the winning touchdown, scoring on a last-down 20-yard pass after Lawson's had held them on two previous passes into the end zone. The Broncos then made the crucial point after.
But Lawson's mounted one final drive.
After a fumbled snap and two dropped passes slowed things down, Sipes hit on three consecutive aerials to put his team on the Bronco 20.
But then came two more penalties, and Sipes just missed connecting from the 30 on the game's final play with one second left.
"We have good talent," Sipes said afterward, trying to weavea silver lining into the dark cloud. "We played a lot better today.
"Things are starting to come together. But a win would build everybody's confidence."
Some other county residents in the northeastern end of the county did better on the gridiron this weekend.
In Carroll County Football League action, the North Carroll Panthers C team outlasted Reisterstown of Baltimore County, 18-13, Saturday atHannah More School near Owings Mills.
The win pulled North Carroll into a first-place tie with the previously undefeated Baltimore County team in Division I of the League's seven-team bracket. Both teamsare 4-1.
The Panthers unleashed a strong ground attack, scoring three times on rushes to pull ahead 18-0 early in the game.
They then had to hang on to win.
Steve Suter rushed for 103 yards on 16 carries and scored twice for the winners, and backfield mate Mike Taylor added 128 more yards on 15 carries, scoring once.
The Panthers B squad though, was not so lucky at Hannah More Saturday.
Reisterstown's B team won, 19-6, as the Panthers dropped from the ranks of the unbeaten.