Dundalk entered Friday’s game against visiting Woodlawn in a three-game losing streak with two of the losses in home games and during which the Owl offense had scored two touchdowns.
The Owls scored on the opening possession of the game and rode that initial spark to a 28-16 victory over the Warriors (3-2).
A 52-yard completion from Treshawn Ray to Dallion Smith highlighted the drive, which ended when Ray hit Smith in the back of the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown pass.
“We were pitching all week that this was a must-win,” Dundalk coach Matt banta said. “On that first possession, we wanted to punch them in the mouth right away, get them shook.”
Dundalk, now 2-3, lost to a private school, Concordia Prep, defending Class 3A state champ Franklin, and a Frederick Douglass team that was the Class 1A state runner-up last season.
“Making that schedule, I was hoping it would make us battle-tested,” Banta said. “I’m hoping to prove myself right. Our guys have spent the last three games getting punched in the mouth, and they’re still swinging.”
After Dundalk took a 7-0 lead, Woodlawn started two drives inside the Owl 30-yard line. Neither drive resulted in points.
The Warriors lost a fumble after starting at the Dundalk 28-yard line, and turned the ball over on downs after starting on the Owl 27.
On Dundalk’s ensuing possession, Woodlawn received another opportunity after intercepting a Ray pass that appeared to hit the ground. But the Owl defense forced a punt.
“Those stops were obviously a momentum-changer,” Banta said. “It gave the kids confidence going forward.”
Dundalk led 13-0 at halftime and 21-8 entering the fourth quarter. Woodlawn scored on the first play of the quarter to cut the Owls’ lead to 21-16.
The Owls then drove 79 yards in seven plays to again take a two-score lead.
Ray carried the ball on five straight plays to move Dundalk from its own 24 to the Woodlawn 44.
On second and 14, Ray threw a deep pass down the middle to Sean Perry, who somehow fought off a Woodlawn defender, snagged the ball in stride inside the 10, and dragged the Warrior into the end zone.
Woodlawn had two more possessions, turning the ball over on downs each time.
Dundalk scored its second touchdown after a punt pinned Woodlawn at its own four-yard line. The Warrior quarterback fumbled while running, and J. Fiorenza scooped the ball up and returned it for a score.
A 50-yard run on the first drive of the second half set up Woodlawn’s first touchdown, which cut Dundalk’s lead to 13-8.
As the Owls would do in the fourth quarter in response to a Warrior touchdown, Dundalk took the enduing kickoff and went 72 yards in seven plays.
Then touchdown came on a 14-yard run by Ray.
Dundalk has another tough game this week when it plays at Kenwood on Friday.
The Bluebirds (3-2) are coming off a 41-6 loss at Franklin, which beat Dundalk 49-10.