In the Battle of the Burgs, the Clarksburg Coyotes football team improved to 4-1 following a 24-13 road victory over the 1-4 Gaithersburg Trojans Friday evening. The game was one of the few played on Friday night since most games were rescheduled to Saturday due to field conditions after a week of rain.
The Coyotes had not won at four of their first five games of the season in nearly 10 years when the 2009 squad started 5-0 en route to a 7-3 finish.
“For us to be 4-1, I don’t think anybody in the County would think that,” Clarksburg head coach Bob Plante said. “It’s a real tribute, not only to this coaching staff, my assistant coaches, but also these kids and this community.”
On Friday, Clarksburg started hot forcing Gaithersburg into a three-and-out on the first drive of the game before driving and eventually scoring on a 19-yard run by senior quarterback Joey Perkins five minutes into the game.
With an early 7-0 lead established, the Coyote defense forced a second three-and-out for the Trojans. Their offense once again drove down inside the Trojans’ red zone, but the Coyotes would not come away with points this time as Perkins was intercepted by senior linebacker Andrew Oni in the endzone.
Gaithersburg’s offense continued to struggle as the first quarter drew to a close, punting for a third time just 15 seconds into the second quarter. Clarksburg set up shop at their own 37-yard line, and big runs by Perkins and senior running back Ben Spiess put the ball on the Gaithersburg seven-yard line.
Perkins would find his mark this time as he threw a short touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Casey McKinney in the end zone to make it 14-0 Clarksburg just over three minutes into the second quarter.
The Trojans’ offense showed signs of life on their next drive, but a penalty drew them back to their own 16-yard line and senior quarterback Bryan DeCarlo was promptly intercepted by the Coyotes.
Clarksburg looked primed to score once again, but Perkins would end up throwing his second interception at the Gaithersburg 21-yard line, this time to senior defensive back Christian Lewis midway through the quarter.
Both teams exchanged punts until the Coyotes got their second takeaway of the game, courtesy of an interception by McKinney at their own 32-yard line. The score would remain 14-0 going into halftime.
“Coach Martin and Coach Walko did a great job setting the defensive fronts this year,” Plante said. “Our defensive fronts were designed, every formation that they had, those defensive fronts were designed to stop what they do the best.”
Gaithersburg started the third quarter with early momentum, holding Clarksburg to a three-and-out after receiving the second half kickoff.
From their own 38-yard line, the Trojans drove down the field deep into Coyotes territory before DeCarlo found the endzone on a quarterback sneak at the one-yard line to end the shutout with four and a half minutes left in the quarter.
It wouldn’t take Gaithersburg long to find the end zone again as Oni scored on his second interception of the game just two plays into Clarksburg’s next possession. A crucial missed extra point prevented Gaithersburg from tying the game and kept Clarksburg in front 14-13.
The Coyotes responded quickly with a strong, solid drive, capped off by a 39-yard Spiess touchdown run to increase their lead to 21-13 with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter.
Gaithersburg and Clarksburg continued to exchange punts until Gaithersburg downed a punt at the Clarksburg eight-yard line with just over eight minutes to go in the game.
Clarksburg wasn’t fazed by the subpar field position, though, and drove all the way to the Gaithersburg one-yard line, converting a fourth down and forcing Gaithersburg to use all three timeouts along the way. A short field goal extended Clarksburg’s lead to 24-13 with 2:56 to go in regulation.
“That last drive is how you win,” Plante said. “We took that ball 90-something yards [and] kicked a field goal to ice it. That’s what you want out of your offensive line and offense.”
The Trojans returned the kickoff to their own 41-yard line, but the Coyotes’ defense held tough to force a turnover on downs and seal the victory.
“We’ve got 28 guys, 30 guys on a 4A football team, and it’s hard to compete every day and not feel fatigued and not get beat up, but these kids are doing it, and so we have to continue to get better,” Plante said. “One of our core values is grit, and this is a gritty bunch.
Clarksburg will face its toughest test of the season as it travels to local rival and three-time defending state champion Damascus this Friday hoping to snap the Swarmin’ Hornets’ 48-game winning streak. The Hornets are coming off a 37-0 victory over Poolesville on the field at Gaithersburg on Saturday afternoon. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 pm.
In other local football news, Seneca Valley fell to 1-4 after a 32-3 loss to the 4-1 Blake Bengals in a game held at Paint Branch High School at 1:00 pm on Saturday. The Screamin’ Eagles will hope to get back in the win column on Friday night as they host 1-4 Magruder at Gaithersburg High School at 7:00 pm.
Top: Coyote’s senior quarterback Joey Perkins (3) rolls out looking for an open receiver. He threw one touchdown and ran for another during Friday’s game at Gaithersburg.
Next: Clarksburg senior running back Ben Speiss (10) outruns Gaithersburg defenders.
Next: Gaithersburg’s senior linebacker Andrew Oni (2) had two interceptions, one for a touchdown during Friday’s Battle of the ‘Burgs.
Photos by Billy Owens for Germantown Pulse