TEMPLE HILLS – Players of the Crossland Cavaliers football team ran up to the coaching staff on the sideline with Gatorade buckets and poured water all over them in celebration for something that has not been done for a while.
For the first time in 23 years, Crossland High School is heading to the postseason after securing a 34-12 victory over the Parkdale Panthers on Nov. 3. Crossland was led by their senior quarterback Justin Holloway, who finished the day with four total touchdowns.
“Our offense was so successful today because it starts with our offensive line,” Holloway said. “Without the O-line, you can’t do nothing on the field. You can’t get a yard, and all you are going to do is keep going back.
“So, I had to keep them up and keep pushing them forward. We just have to keep our heads tall so that we can go all the way. “We made it to the playoffs now, so why not go all the way? We need to just improve on some discipline and work on our strategies. I like us to just play as a team.”
Crossland did not waste any time as they got off to a hot start.
On their first drive of the game, senior running back Darius McBride broke off an 88-yard touchdown that set the tone for the rest of the game. McBride was a pivotal piece to Crossland’s offense and finished the day with the game with 15 carries for 156 yards and one touchdown.
“We had good discipline today,” McBride said. “Everybody was doing their part and fighting for each other. The offense is a team game.
“You have to fight for each other, block for each other, run hard, and we have to want it. We just need to condition more, keep our heads in the game and stick together for the playoffs.”
After that run by McBride, Holloway threw his first touchdown pass of the afternoon to junior wide receiver Anthony James, Jr., which put Crossland up 12-0 in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Parkdale responded with a one-yard quarterback sneak by senior Ta’Ron Hewan that cut the score down to 12-6 late in the first half. However, Holloway threw a 50-yard bomb to sophomore Jeremiah Gibson for a touchdown to end the half and gave Crossland a 20-6 lead at halftime.
In the second half, Crossland forced three turnovers and turned them into points. Holloway continued to lead the way as he threw and ran for his third and fourth touchdowns of the contest; Holloway finished with two rushing and two passing touchdowns.
Although Crossland had three passing touchdowns, they were more effective with their ground game as they finished with 262 rushing yards as opposed to 73 passing yards.
“I thought we ran the ball well today, but toward the end there, I thought I was going to the air a little bit too much, and we weren’t able to take time off the clock at the end,” Crossland’s fourth-year Head Coach Eric Knight said. “We ran the ball because we thought we outmatched them size-wise. The plan was to run the ball when we are going into the wind and when we had the wind at our back we passed the ball.”
With Crossland going into territory they have not been to in more than two decades, this win showed the tenacity and perseverance of the Cavaliers.
“It’s been since 1995 that Crossland has been in the playoffs,” Knight said. “I been in the playoffs most of my career, so I just feel like it’s a special time of year. It’s a time where you have to make sure you practice hard every day because it’s one-and-done in the playoffs.
“So, you can’t have any halfway practices or anything like that. You just have to prepare and come out there and give it your best shot every play, every day. We just have to work on our penalties and work on not having breakdowns in pass protection and other areas like that.”