LANHAM – An intense football match between Gwynn Park High School and DuVal High School on Sept. 8 started off gloomy and wet due to a rainy afternoon in Lanham.
However, it ended with excitement as the game came down to one play in the final minutes. It was sophomore cornerback Omarion Wood that sealed the deal late in the final period with an interception for Gwynn Park, which gave them a 12-10 road win for their first victory of the season.
“It was late in the game, and I just had the mindset that I have to make this play,” Wood said about his interception. “I saw the ball coming my way and went and got it.We all have confidence, and we kept that going throughout the game. We adjusted well to what they were doing.”
In the first quarter, DuVal senior defensive back Aljareek Malry corralled an interception with 4:54 left in the first quarter. Although they forced a turnover, they could not get anything going on the offensive end which caused them to punt the ball.
On the ensuing punt, Gwynn Park special teams blocked DuVal’s punt and recovered it in the endzone for the first score of the game. Toward the end of the first, Gwynn Park senior quarterback Kamari Brown scored on a 26-yard run to give them a 12-0 lead to end the first quarter.
The second quarter was a defensive stand for both teams as both sides went scoreless.
“I feel like we executed really well,” said Brown, who had the team’s only offensive touchdown to go along with 53 total yards. “It was sloppy, but we still executed and got the job done. I could have done better by putting the ball in better spots, or I could have changed plays.
“Even though the coach calls the plays, sometimes I have to take control and change the plays on my own.”
At the start of the second half, things started to look up for DuVal. As Gwynn Park was set to receive the kickoff to begin the third quarter, they fumbled the ball on their own five-yard line, which gave DuVal excellent field position.
DuVal had an opportunity to convert that turnover into some points on the board, but they came up short. The Tigers ran the ball four times, but the Gwynn Park defense stopped them as they had done all game.
“The fumble on the kickoff that gave them the ball in our own territory was the difference between the two halves,” Gwynn Park Head Coach Danny Hayes said.
“We are a very young team and only have one player back from last year. We stayed together, stayed tight as a team and made sure we did the right things. We need just to take this win, put it away and go for the next game. Just concentrate on one team at a time. Once we can do that, get things going, get ourselves well-prepared and just have to keep moving. Just limiting our mistakes is the biggest problem.”
After Gwynn Park could not score on their offensive possession, DuVal’s special teams blocked a punt that put them on their opponent’s five-yard line again for the second time this game.
Last time the Tigers had four attempts to get in and failed, but this time they would not be denied.
Senior quarterback Akil Woods Jr. performed a quarterback sneak on the goal line that gave DuVal their first score of the game. He then threw a short pass to senior running back Corey Ewing Jr. for the two-point conversion to make the score 12-8 halfway through the third with Gwynn Park still leading. Woods finished the game with the team’s only touchdown to go along with 88 total yards.
The fourth quarter came down a significant turnover in the final seconds of the game. After Hayes designed a play that gave Gwynn Park a safety, which made the score 12-10 with 2:10 left in the game, DuVal had more shot to get into the endzone.
They drove halfway down the field, but that is when Wood saved the day for Gwynn Park with his game-winning interception with just over a minute left in the game. DuVal got the ball back with seconds left on the clock, but they missed on two hail mary attempts which ended the game.
Even though DuVal lost their first game of the season, Head Coach Carlos Lockwood believes that his team is in good shape and should not be worried.
“I had one message for my team,” Lockwood said. “All this means is that we are going to go undefeated after this game. We are going to be right back at it tomorrow with a coaches meeting and get back on the drawing board. We got Urbana week three, and we have to close out. Now let’s go 1-0 week three and then we’ll finish out week-by-week.”