SPRINGDALE – The Suitland High School football team maintained its perfect record by the slimmest of margins, beating Fredrick Douglass High School by a score of 7-6 at Springdale on Oct. 5.
The two scoring drives came on the first and last possessions of the game, with Suitland (6-0) marched down the field for an early 7-0 lead and Douglass (4-2) countered in the final two minutes with a touchdown.
After nearly four quarters of offensive ineptitude, Douglass Head Coach Julius Pinkney opted for a two-point conversion to potentially win the game instead of tying it with an extra point, but running back Cameron Munoz was dragged down at the one-yard line.
A failed onside kick and two kneel downs later, Suitland was still undefeated.
“That’s our best opportunity,” Pinkney said. “I thought we had what we wanted, we decided on the line of scrimmage, and we went with it. Going for two was the best possible situation for us, we never even considered kicking the extra point.”
The Eagles had been held under 150 yards of total offense before that final drive, an 11-play sequence ending with Munoz falling into the end zone from two yards out.
The possession had seemingly ended two plays before the score, when on fourth down quarterback Devin Harding lofted a pass toward the sideline intended for tight end Robert Morgan but caught out of bounds. A referee conference then overruled the incompletion, granting the questionable catch and extending the drive.
Suitland had similar issues moving the ball, and its three second-half drives consisted of a punt, a blocked field goal and then the game-ending quarterback kneels. The Rams gained just 24 yards in the final two quarters.
Both chances to extend the lead were squandered, one in each half. In the waning minutes of the second quarter, Suitland drove inside the Douglass 10-yard line only to be stopped on fourth down, with running back Armani Wooden halted at the 1-yard line.
The Rams had another shot to go up two scores in the fourth quarter, with a Harding interception setting them up deep in Douglass territory. They managed just one first down, and Isaac Asiamah’s 33-yard field goal was blocked and recovered by Isaiah Jordan.
“Douglass is a good team,” said Suitland Head Coach Ed Shields. “They’re well-coached, that’s no surprise. We had some opportunities we didn’t capitalize on, some drives we didn’t finish.”
The Rams were led by junior quarterback Damien Partee, who threw for just 28 yards but paced the team in rushing with 66 yards and a touchdown on eight carries. Senior Armani Wooden was close behind with 63 yards on 18 carries, though Douglass bottled him up for most of the contest.
Partee opened the scoring on a weaving 11-yard run through the Eagles’ defense, capping an 11-play drive that started at midfield after a long kickoff return.
He also had his two longest completions on that first possession, converting on a third down to Ronald Williams for 12 yards, and then found Robert McMillian across the middle for a fourth-down conversion.
The touchdown run was Partee’s first of four carries for 10 or more yards, though none came more natural.
“It’s all my line, my receivers getting good blocks,” Partee said. “All I really need to do is follow the blocks, find the hole. It was basically a walk-in touchdown.”
Douglass outgained Suitland overall and finished with two more first downs. The Eagles committed four penalties compared to 10 for the Rams but lost in one key area that likely shifted the balance of the game. Douglass turned the ball over three times while failing to force a single turnover. Harding’s interception ended a drive that hadn’t generated much momentum, but a pair of fumbles ended two promising possessions.
The Eagles had reached the red zone near the end of the second quarter, a Suitland pre-snap penalty keeping the drive alive until Harding was sacked and stripped on back-to-back plays, losing the second fumble. Douglass then crossed midfield to open the second half, only for Harding to be sacked again and lose the football, recovered by defensive back Christian Sloan.
Douglass’ two losses have been by a combined seven points, and the team managed only one touchdown across those defeats.
“Suitland is a tough defensive team,” Pinckney said. “We had opportunities and scoring situations, and we just didn’t take advantage. Sometimes it just works that way.”