GREENBELT – Charles H. Flowers High School quarterback Julius Duvall’s first two drives against Eleanor Roosevelt High School did not go as planned.
The Jaguars senior started by throwing an interception in his first passing attempt of the game and on the following offensive drive, a bad snap slipped through his fingers, turning the ball over against the Raiders.
A quick conversation with Flowers Head Coach Dameon Powell calmed the quarterback down, who was still having flashbacks of their home loss last season against the Raiders during the state playoffs.
“I knew (Duvall) was super excited and wanted to make things happen,” Powell said. “He’s a firecracker on that sideline, but he is a gamer, runs that offense, gets everybody in place and he leads this team. I love that young man, and he is going to get better.”
And like a player reborn, Duvall, on his first official passing attempt after the turnovers, lifted off a long downfield pass to a wide-open Daniel Buchanan for a 65-yard touchdown reception.
“He (Powell) knew it was a mistake and knew we would come back from it,” Duvall said. “He told me to calm down and put the ball in the air; I did, and everything came out alright.”
Duvall continued making excellent plays for Flowers, finishing the game 7-for-12 for 198 yards, three passing and an additional rushing score. A six-sack performance by the Jaguars defense completed the dismantling of their Greenbelt foes as Flowers earned a bit of revenge for their 4A regional semifinals loss with a convincing 40-0 road win on Sept. 14.
The Jaguars (3-0) were aggressive offensively after their opening two drives led to turnovers. After his opening touchdown to Buchanan, the five-foot-ten, 143-pound quarterback continued to make stellar players for Flowers. He flung a 17-yard pass to junior wide receiver Jordan Washington on fourth-down for the Jaguars’ second touchdown of the game.
The support of his offensive line was vital for Flower’s success, specifically in giving Duvall time to throw the ball down the field, Powell said. The running game also benefited by their standout play as Jaguar runners buried through the open gaps for more yardage. Flowers finished with 195 rushing yards with primary running back Tristan Shannon collecting 68 yards on 14 carries.
Meanwhile, the Flowers defense suffocated Eleanor Roosevelt (1-1) as they pounded Roosevelt with six sacks. Both Eleanor Roosevelt quarterbacks, including starter Jalen Walters, and backup Chris Billings, were continuously pressured, ending the game with no passes completed and the offense only crossed midfield two times.
“The defense was awesome tonight,” Powell said. “Those boys were doing their thing, but they were focused and prepared after doing well in practice; they are doing well every week, and they are going to keep doing better by the end of the season.”
Senior defensive tackle Jaden Thompson led all Jaguar defenders with three sacks. Powell called the six-foot, 195-pound star one of the key “motors” on defense that limited the Raiders to 121 yards of total offense.
“We studied film hard, and they did not come out here with anything that we did not already prepare for,” Thompson said. “(The quarterback change) let me know that the game plan was not to throw anymore but to run…But (we) have pure aggression. It is nothing special but pure aggression.”
Flowers continued their dominance in the second half, scoring four straight touchdowns. One of the scores included Duvall to Washington connected for the second time for a 16-yard touchdown. With two minutes remaining, senior running back Breaun Roderique broke free down the sideline on his first carry of the game for a 44-yard run score, sending the traveling support from the Springdale school home happy with the win.
For the Raiders, the defeat made it clear what the flaws are on the team, Head Coach Thomas Green said. Issues steaming from their 41-0 victory over Carver Vocational-Technical High School on Sept. 8, from miscommunication on offense and lacking aggression on defense, reappeared against Flowers.
The Raiders will need to re-evaluate their focus and play mistake-free moving forward, starting with their first away game of the season against Central on Sept. 22.
Meanwhile, Flowers coaches reminded their veteran players of last season where they defeated Roosevelt in the regular season but lost in the playoffs.
The win was satisfying, but it is a step forward to the goal of competing for a regional and state title for the Jaguars, Powell said. The road trip continues for Flowers as they travel to Hyattsville to take on Northwestern High School on Sept. 21.
“This was a measure of revenge, but I feel like we stuck to the game plan, played like a team and came out victorious as usual,” Duvall said. “That was the goal. We just came out with the game plan to dominate, and that is what we did.”