One defensive lapse and two fruitless trips inside the Concordia Prep 10-yard line led to a 13-0 loss by Dundalk in its home opener on Friday.
After a scoreless first half, the Saints scored on the opening possession of the third quarter to take a 7-0 lead.
The drive was sparked by a first-down pass from Justin Carter that gained 34 yards and moved the Saints from their own 30-yard line to the Dundalk 36.
Carter had rolled right on the play and appeared to have nowhere to go before spotting Deonte Ferguson all alone on the far left sideline.
The pass traveled in the air long enough for Owl defenders to react and keep Ferguson from scoring, but the Saints were able to power the ball into the end zone eight plays later.
“We lost coverage on a crucial play,” Dundalk coach Matt Banta said. “I don’t understand why we lost coverage there.”
“Our defense was on the field too long, made mental mistakes through exhaustion.”
Dundalk’s defense gave up yards but not points throughout the first half. Concordia Prep’s offense reached the red zone four times without scoring as the Owl defense had two takeaways and two fourth-down stops.
A Dundalk punt that glanced off the back of an Owl lineman started Concordia Prep on the Owl 33 with 7:28 remaining in the first half.
Owl defensive back Dallion Smith broke up a pass on third down and intercepted a fourth-down pass in the end zone.
Concordia Prep recovered a fumble three plays later and returned it to the Dundalk eight-yard line with 4:27 left in the half.
The Owls stopped the saints on fourth down from the Dundalk five-yard line.
Dundalk’s offense did little in the first half as the Saints shut down the Owls’ running game.
“We’re young and inexperienced up front,” Banta said. “We really struggled tonight against a talented defensive line.”
Dundalk responded to the Saints’ touchdown with its first sustained drive of the game, moving from its own 29-yard line to first-and-goal from the Concordia Prep eight-yard line.
Owl quarterback Treshawn “Snoopy” Ray completed six straight passes, hitting Sean Perry for 17 yards, Patrick Ellis for 23 yards, Kobe Anthony for three yards and then connecting three straight times with Henry Rohlfs for zero, eight and 10 yards.
But Ray was sacked for a 7-yard loss on second down from the seven-yard line, and then an apparent touchdown scramble by Ray was called back for a holding penalty that pushed the Owls back to the 25.
Dundalk eventually turned the ball over on downs at the Concordia Prep 11.
Trailing 13-0 midway through the fourth quarter after a controversial Saints’ touchdown, Dundalk drove to the Concordia Prep nine on what was only the Owls’ second possession of the second half.
On third-and-17 from the Concordia 42-yard line, Ray scrambled for 23 yards to the Saints’ nine-yard line.
Two runs left the Owls facing third-and-inches just outside the nine-yard line. An incomplete pass brought up fourth down.
“We hadn’t been having success running the ball,” said Banta, explaining the decision to pass out of the shotgun. “Our three-step game was working for us, and we were getting decent pass protection. We just wanted to keep the ball in Snoopy’s hands.”
A timeout was called as the teams lined up for fourth down. And a flag was flown: unsportsmanlike conduct against Dundalk.
Now facing fourth and 15, Ray threw for the end zone and the pass was broken up. Concordia Prep held the ball for the final four minutes.
“We just didn’t take care of business,’ Banta said. “The running game was ineffective, but we did some good things in the passing game and Snoopy did good things with his feet.
“We just couldn’t finish drives.”
Concordia made t a two-score game in the fourth quarter thanks to what appeared to be a questionable no-call by the referees.
On second and nine from the Dundalk 14, Carter bobbled the snap and missed a handoff for a running play. Pursued by Owl defenders, he ran to the right and saw teammate Davion Ames open in the end zone for a touchdown.
The entire Concordia Prep offensive line was several yards downfield, but no penalty was called for ineligible man downfield, and the touchdown stood.
Dundalk (1-2) has another tough game this week as it plays at defending Class 3A state champion Franklin (1-1).
The Indians have won five straight against the Owls since Dundalk upset the two-time defending state champs in the 2015 Class 3A North regional finals.
“We’re going to find out what we’re about the next three weeks,” Banta said. “If we can get through these next three games, show we belong, and steal a couple of wins, we’ll be battle-tested and in a good spot entering the playoffs.”
After Franklin, Dundalk hosts last year’s Class 1A state runner-up Frederick Douglass and then hosts a Woodlawn team that is off to a 2-0 start.