If the City League regular-season championship is ultimately decided by the winner of Friday night's Allderdice-Perry game, then an ill-advised pass into double coverage can very well be what was responsible for altering the course of an entire season.
A 23-yard touchdown pass from Perry quarterback DaRon Clark to wideout Juyuan Bryd that bounced off the hands of two Allderdice defenders broke what had been an almost 27-minute scoreless deadlock en route to a 12-0 victory for the Commodores at Cupples Stadium.
"Anytime we win, we're happy. It doesn't matter," Perry head coach Bill Gallagher said. "The thing that is very exciting for us is that everything that we did tonight is correctable, and we'll definitely work hard to correct it."
Before Clark's pass, the running narrative for the entirety of the first half was a simple one -- failure from both teams to convert on prime scoring opportunities.
Together, the teams accounted for six lost fumbles, and, for much of the game, neither team was able to take advantage of a long series of blunders. In the first half alone, Perry or Allderdice got inside the 25-yard line of its opponent, usually by virtue of a costly turnover, but was unable to get a score, be it because of penalties, a stagnant offense or a turnover.
Entering the second half with the score tied, 0-0, one team needed to come through and make a play.
Albeit not in the most textbook form, that breakthrough would come from Clark, who entered the game after Commodores starting quarterback Ahmad Turner left the game after the first half with an unspecified injury. With less than 10 minutes remaining in the third quarter, Clark hoisted what looked like an ill-advised pass into a crowded end zone that landed in the hands of Bryd.
To Gallagher, it was just one of many great plays made by a player who answered the challenge when his team needed him the most.
"Our kids played their hearts out, and we had a lot of kids step in and play tonight -- their number was called and they did a great job," he said.
In the fourth quarter, Clark effectively ended the game with a 4-yard touchdown run with 4:58 remaining.
In a contest between the top two teams in the City League standings, the win is important to the Commodores' championship dreams, but for Gallagher, there is still work to be done.
"We're a one-day-at-a-time team," Gallagher said. "We'll go back to work. This film is going to be a great teaching tool, and we can show the kids the mistakes that they made.
"Like I said, we're pleased with the effort, pleased with the outcome, but the mistakes have to be corrected to be successful."
After two weeks with open dates, the Panthers (1-0, 1-0) finally open the season with a shutout of the Raiders (0-3, 0-1). They scored three times on fumble recoveries. Lamont Buckner returned one 44 yards for a score, Terrell Williams recovered another in the end zone, and Jamauri Adams ran 16 yards for a score with the third.
Alkil Young competed 11 of 18 passes for 182 yards for the Panthers and connected with three teammates on touchdown passes.
Craig Meyer: email@example.com and Twitter: @craig_a_meyer.