Dundalk scored five touchdowns against C. Milton Wright on Friday in the first round of the Class 3A North Region playoffs, and the Owls easily could have scored three more.
It was a complete domination as third-seeded Dundalk whipped the sixth-seeded Mustangs 33-0.
C. Milton Wright couldn’t run the ball and couldn’t pass the ball. The Mustangs had 37 yards of total offense in the first half and finished with fewer than 100 yards.
The Owls had more problems with their own mistakes than with the C. Milton Wright defense.
Dundalk had two punt return touchdowns called back for blocking penalties that happened behind the runner. Another drive was stopped on the one-yard line, and the Owls had the ball inside the Mustang 10 in the final minute before letting the clock run out.
Leading 21-0 at the half, the Owls opened the second half with a 65-yard drive that took 15 plays and ran nine minutes off the clock.
Determined to establish a running game, Dundalk ran the ball 35 times for 110 yards.
“We feel as a team we need to establish the run and not rely too heavy on the passing game,” Owls coach Matt Banta said. “You don’t want to be one-dimensional with the caliber of teams you face in the playoffs.”
Treshawn Ray was actually held in check by the Mustang defense, gaining only 23 yards on 12 carries.
Jordan Fiorenza, a freshman, had 11 carries for 40 yards and a nine-yard touchdown run, while Henry Rohlfs rushed for 14 yards and a touchdown.
Patrick Ellis had two receptions for 88 yards and two touchdowns, although his first catch probably counted more as a running play.
Dundalk had the ball at its own 45 on its opening possession after the Mustangs were stuffed on a fourth-and-one play.
On third down from the C. Milton Wright 47, Ray threw a pass to Ellis in the right flat.
Five Mustang defenders had a chance to bring Ellis down for little or no gain. But he shrugged off repeated tackle attempts, broke free, and suddenly all the players in white jerseys were behind him and nothing but 40-some yards of green turf in front of him.
C. Milton Wright went three-and-out on its ensuing possession, and Ray returned it about 65 yards for a touchdown untouched.
It was negated by a block in the back penalty, and the Owls ended up punting.
The Mustangs broke a 14-yard run on their possession for a rare first down, but a sack led to another punt.
Ellis returned this one about 40 yards for a score, but another blocking penalty erased it.
Dundalk then went 57 yards in eight plays, Rohlfs scoring on a 10-yard sweep around the left side.
Kobe Anthony returned the next Mustang punt about 30 yards to start Dundalk at the Wright 43-yard line (the Mustangs had punted from their 46).
The drive ended when, on fourth down and goal to go, Anthony caught a swing pass from the seven and was stopped inside the one-yard line.
That gave Dundalk’s defense an opportunity to score. C. Milton Wright fumbled on a first down run up the middle and it was recovered by Abdullah Sargeant in the end zone with 31 seconds remaining in the half.
Dundalk completed its scoring in the fourth quarter. On the first play after recovering a Mustang fumble, Ray tossed a lateral to Keyon Garrus, who threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Ellis in stride inside the five-yard-line.
The Owls (7-3) advance to the second round at second-seeded and defending Class 3A state champion Franklin (8-2).
The Indians routed seventh-seeded Edgewood 54-0 in their first-round game. Franklin beat Dundalk 49-10 during the regular season.
“We took a long look at the film of [that game],” Banta said. “We are a completely different team now. Some mistakes we made were completely uncharacteristic of what we do.
“The kids believe. They always believe. We understand it will take a great week of practice and a near flawless game to do it, but we are up for the challenge.”
In the other Class 3A North regional games, top-seeded Mervo (10-0) crushed Kenwood (4-6) 54-0, and fourth-seeded Towson (6-4) held off fifth-seeded City (5-5) 14-6.