UPPER MARLBORO – After seeing his team celebrating their fifth-straight victory on Oct. 5, Fredrick Douglass Head Coach Julius Pinkney brought his team down to earth. They played well enough for the win but this was not a championship win. For the Hall of Fame head coach, this was another step towards winning the overall war.
“This race ain’t over,” Pinkney told his players during his postgame speech. “We got guys missing so we got some work to do but I am proud of you.”
In an affair featuring two undefeated teams, the Eagles found their second gear in the second half as they faced off against Potomac High School. Quarterback Devin Harding led the offensive effort while Douglass’ defense stopped the Wolverine attack multiple times as the Eagles stay undefeated with a 32-19 home win.
With the victory, Douglass (5-0) now owns the tiebreaker over Potomac in the 2A standings as it comes to the playoff picture. Both teams played each other last season to a defensive battle that the Wolverines won 6-0. With Potomac dropping to the 2A classification, words were exchanged between both schools before the game, bringing added intensity to the growing rivalry.
“This was a real playoff atmosphere,” Harding said. “It was a real loud crowd; the band was jumping and we handled it fine and we are getting used to it. From the band coming every week and we have great fans.”
After punting on their opening drive, Potomac (4-1) looked poised to start attacking Douglass’ territory first after the Eagles’ short punt went out of bounce at the 50-yard line. However, in their first play from scrimmage, quarterback Dominique Anthony threw his pass directly at junior defensive end Camron Stroud, giving Douglass back the ball.
The Eagles responded with the first of their several methodical long drives as they ran 13-plays before running back Zavier Price ran in a 1-yard score. Potomac did not respond until the second quarter as Anthony threw a deep pass to wide receiver Amaree Beynum. The senior ran up the field and turned the play into a 54-yard touchdown to tie the game 6-6.
With less than two minutes remaining before halftime, Harding quickly connected with wide receiver Malik Pettaway for a 38-yard reception. Three plays later, running back Doug Lacey punches through with a 5-yard touchdown run to give the Eagles the lead back with 30 seconds remaining.
However, the Wolverines fired back, marching down the field down in 24 seconds as Anthony fired a laser to the end zone to find senior Anthony James. The wide receiver extended his right hand out to make the one-handed catch as time expired to tie the game again before halftime.
“We were through a lot of screens in our previous games and the corner for Douglass was biting hard on the short passes,” Anthony, who threw for 162 yards and three touchdowns, said. “So we faked the screen and went high to (James).”
Douglass came out at halftime with another long drive, going over seven minutes and 13 plays before Harding rushed forward for a 6-yard touchdown run to retake the lead. The drive received help from Price, a 5-foot-8 senior who fought his way across tacklers for extra yardage. According to Pinkney, Price stepping up in the second half was important after running back Jackson Jones was taken out on the first play of the second half with a left knee injury.
“It felt great knowing that I would be the go-to guy for the run game,” Price said. “I just got to keep balling and keep playing.”
Price continued muscling his way for more yards, finishing the game with 62 yards on 15 carries and scoring his second touchdown with 50 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Harding helped his teammate by rushing for 100 yards while throwing for 129 more to keep drives alive.
Meanwhile, Potomac responded with a 29-yard touchdown reception from Anthony to wide receiver Corey Dyches to narrow their deficit to five points early in the fourth quarter. However, the Wolverine defense was unable to get the Eagles off the field. Douglass ran a long 17-play, seven-minute and 38-second drive that culminated with Geo-Di Tolbert’s 4-yard rushing touchdown.
By the time Potomac got the ball back with less than four minutes remaining, they were unable to convert a first down on three incomplete pass plays, turning the ball over on downs. The Douglass fans began to celebrate the huge win over the Wolverines as the Eagles continue their undefeated run.
“We knew we had to fight,” Harding said. “Potomac is a hard team and they have a lot of grit in them, so coming back in the second half, we knew we had to keep pushing and driving down the field.”
With the potential of meeting Potomac again in the playoffs or the state championships, Pinkney reminded his players of the importance of celebrating the win but moving forward with a “one game at a time” mentality as they move forward.
“I want them to be happy but I want them to understand that this is a marathon and not a sprint,” Pinkney said. “We are only on Week 5 at this point and there is plenty of football left to play.”