Everything seemed to be working out for Patapsco at halftime of its Homecoming Game against Pikesville on Thursday.
The Patriots looked primed to win at Homecoming, break a three-game losing skid, get their record back over.500 and remain in the thick of playoff contention in the Class 3A North Region.
Then... everything... started... falling... apart.
Pikesville returned the opening kickoff of the second half to take a 16-14 lead. A go-ahead Patapsco touchdown was called back due to a questionable penalty.
The Panthers returned an interception for a touchdown. Then they returned another interception for a touchdown. Finally, a third interception set up Pikesville’s final score in a 36-14 Patapsco loss.
Pikesville had 54 yards of total offense in the second half, and scored four touchdowns. The Panthers did little more than sit back and take avantage of the Patriots’ mistakes.
On the kickoff return to start the second half, Patasco meant to place the ball in a specific spot to ensure a short return, but the ball instead went to a dangerous kick returner.
A key mistake, but survivable. The real turning point came on Patapco’s subsequent possession.
On third and 11 from the Patapsco 31, Jeston Jones caught a short pass from A.J. Ratliff, broke several tackles, picked up some key blocks downfield, and went 69 yards for a touchdown.
Except ... there was a penalty flag. Blocking in the back. On film, the Patapsco player called for the penalty had been running side-by-side with a Pikesville defender and leaned into him, shoulder-to-shoulder, to slow him down.
No blocking in the back. But, no touchdown either.
The score was still 16-14, Pikesville, at the end of the third quarter. On the first play of the fourth quarter, on first down from the Panther 46-yard line, Ratliff’s pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdwn to extend the Panthers’’ lead to 22-14.
Patapsco then drove from its 20-yard line to a first down at the Pikesville 36. On the next play, the Panthers returned another interception for a touchdown.
Had Patapsco been leading, as it would have been had the touchdown not been negated by penalty, Patapsco coach Tyler Clough said the Patriots would have been running the ball.
Instead, throwing the ball on nearly every down in the second half, the Patriots finished the game with only five yards rushing and 258 yards passing.
Pikesvile had seven first downs (two on a drive that started with 36 seconds left in the first half and ended with time expiring) and its longest drive of the game went for 27 yards.
But that 27-yard drive ended with a touchdown, as did the Panthers’ second-longest drive of 25 yards.
That came on Pikesville’s first possession of the game, after Patapsco punted from its four-yard line and the Panthers took over on the Patriot 25.
Patapsco was in such a hole due to penalties. For the game, Patapsco was penalized nine times for 60 yards. The Patriots aso lost a fumble to go along with the three interceptions.
The first half seemed like an entirely different game. Patapsco tied the game at 8-8 on an 87-yard run by Jones, who took a short pass and shed tackle attempts from seemingly every member of the Pikesville defense before breaking free.
On Patapsco’s next possession, the Patriots drove 62 yards in eight plays to take a 14-8 lead on a 23-yard touchdown catch by Sean Yoon.
During halftime, as part of Homecoming, the Patapsco band performed a routine based on the television show “Lost;” a program on which bizarre events happened for no apparent reason.
It was forshadowing for the second half.