PYLESVILLE — Senior quarterback Aydon Brown isn’t asked to throw the ball very often as a member of Rising Sun’s ground-and-pound Wing-T offense.
On Friday, he made sure to make the most of his opportunities.
After a punt from the end zone gave the Tigers the ball at the opposition’s 35-yard line, Brown began the new drive by rolling to his right and connecting with tight end Dakota Douglas for a 22-yard completion down the sideline.
Two plays later, he rolled to his right again and found a diving Josh Moskes in the center of the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown pass that tied the game early in the fourth quarter.
“Aydon’s been great. He doesn’t complain about running the ball all the time. He does a really nice job and he’s an athlete. He’s going to make plays and it showed tonight,” Rising Sun head coach Clem Vaughan said. “I had a feeling we might need him at some point in this game and he stepped up.”
The ensuing extra point gave the second-ranked Tigers the lead for good in an eventual 24-15 victory over North Harford in non-divisional football action.
“We were just trying to get them to bite on the runs mainly. We just saw the opportunity for the pass on the open side. I trusted my wide receivers and they prevailed,” said Brown (4-for-8 for 55 yards), who attempted five passes in the game prior to the touchdown. “I was going to run it, actually, [on the touchdown play], but I caught Josh waving his hands out of the corner of my eye and I turned around and threw it off my back foot as hard as I could. He dove and caught it somehow.”
Senior Justin Brooks (37 carries for 228 yards and two touchdowns) capped the team’s scoring with a 30-yard touchdown run inside the game’s final minutes and the defense pitched a second-half shutout as the Tigers (2-0) open the season with consecutive wins for the first time since 2008.
“It’s fantastic for these kids to start this way. They’ve got a goal in mind and they’re churning toward it,” Vaughan said. “I was kind of afraid, riding the bus up here… it’s a really tough road game no matter how you spell it. They responded and we got it done.”
The Tigers mounted a second-half comeback for a second straight week after they erased a one-point, third-quarter deficit to top Cambridge-SD last Friday.
Against the Hawks (1-1), senior Drew Opp hauled in a fourth-quarter interception and the defense forced three second-half punts as it adjusted to an offense that threw a pair of touchdowns prior to the break.
North Harford quarterback Bobby Duffy broke a scoreless tie when he connected with big-bodied receiver Austin Smith for a 31-yard touchdown in the first quarter. The duo hooked up again with 19 seconds remaining before halftime when Duffy, nearly dragged to the ground by a trio of defenders, lobbed up a last-effort pass on third down that was caught for a 12-yard score.
The quarterback then plunged into the end zone for the 2-point conversion to make it 15-9.
“I think we’re more of a second-half team, honestly. We came out flat but we turned up, we knew what we had to do and we stopped them everytime in the second half,” Opp said. “Coach told us we were giving their receivers too much respect, they were getting the quick slants off, so we started running bump-and-run and it paid off.”
After Brooks capped a four-minute, eight-play, 68-yard drive with a 6-yard touchdown run to tie the game in the first quarter, Jackson Sowers gave Rising Sun the narrow lead with a tremendous play on special teams.
The senior blocked a North Harford punt in the end zone to create a safety and put the Cecil County team up. It was part of a dominating day by Rising Sun special teams, which also recovered a muffed kickoff and punt and converted a pair of extra points.
“I saw an opening. I took it, went straight through the guy, stuck my hand up and hit the ball,” Sowers said of the block.
Brooks stepped up as lead runner after a wrist injury to last week’s starter Ben Ehrhart prevented him from playing. Ehrhart, a senior, set the school’s single-game rushing record a week ago with 320 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 13 carries.
Senior Noah Boyd, who led Cecil County with over 1,800 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns last season, was also on the bench as he recovers from a preseason knee injury.
“I had to play for the people who can’t play, like Noah and Ben. I had to show out and try my best,” Brooks said. “I had to work as hard out there as I could.”
With Rising Sun clinging to a narrow, 16-15 lead with a minute to go and facing fourth-and-2, Brooks took the handoff and found an open hole for a 30-yard touchdown run. It marked his longest rushing play of the evening and sealed the victory. He followed by scoring the 2-point conversion.
“Our linemen are great, they push so hard for us to make our job easy. All we have to do is read the right cut and we’re off to the races every time,” said Brooks, who overcame a fumble near the goal line in the second quarter. “We faced so much adversity in this game and we were just fighting back and working hard. We came out with the victory.”
Added Vaughan: “I knew they were going to try to take away Justin and we powered through and got it done. He definitely had a big night. I was saying it all week that it was going to be someone else’s turn. Who’s it going to be? He stepped up and did a nice job.”
North East bounced back from a season-opening loss with a 21-14 victory over host Fallston Friday night.
Jachai Graham rushed for 244 yards and two touchdowns and Brandon Maenner added 57 yards rushing and one score for the Indians (1-1), who had a fumble recovery from Kris Kozminski and three extra points from Brandon Tolbert.
“Fallston is not who they were last year. They are a very tough, physical football team right now. They have a good back in No. 1 and they’re going to win some games. You can mark my words on that,” North East head coach Chris Schleich said. “But our offensive line came together and we clicked. We fed Jachai and the way we designed things came together.
“Kenwood [last week] showed us what we need to do to win. Now that we’ve been showed that — and you don’t get that from a scrimmage — we’re executing the way we need to to be successful.”
Perryville defeated visiting Joppatowne 28-14 in Susquehanna Division football action. Stats from the contest were not provided.
Tyler Losten caught a touchdown pass from Jake Harris as the Eagles (0-2) fell 25-6 to Patteson Mill.