BRANDYWINE – With time ticking away, the Potomac High School football team’s defense was ready to defend any last-second heave Gwynn Park prepared to throw. As quarterback Elyjiah Mitchell launched the ball 40 yards to the end zone with two seconds remaining, three Wolverines were prepared to knock the ball down.
Cornerback Travon Green dove in front of wide receiver Khalil Stone to make the last-second interception for Potomac. As soon as he landed with the ball, the senior ran to the sidelines to celebrate with his teammates. For defensive tackle Zion Pitman, the interception was the culmination of a bounce-back performance for Potomac.
“We were down in the first half but at halftime, we had a good talk,” Pitman said “We were confident the whole game but we just had to pull through. Our quarterback went down but we just had to pull through.”
After going down by 14 points and allowing the Yellow Jackets to score on three consecutive drives, the Wolverines thundered back defensively by collecting four interceptions and a fumble recovery. Combined with a stellar performance by their rushing attack, Potomac fought back to defeat Gwynn Park 34-28 on Nov. 1.
With the win, Potomac (8-1) wins their fourth straight game and heads into the state playoffs as the No. 3 seed in the 2A region. According to Head Coach Ronnie Crump, the Wolverines needed to win at Gwynn Park playing more aggressively against a Yellow Jackets team that does not give up.
“We work hard for this,” senior running back Dadrian Carter-Williams said. “From every day and every practice, we know what we work for and what we deserve”
The Wolverines started strong as Daemon Dawkins took back the opening kickoff to the end zone for a 91-yard return for a touchdown. After forcing Gwynn Park to punt in their opening drive, everything began to swing Potomac’s favor.
The Yellow Jackets responded right away, first by punting the ball to the 1-yard line. On Potomac’s first play, the Gwynn Park defense allowed no running room for Carter-Williams and tackled him in the end zone for a safety. As soon as they got the ball back, wide receiver Omarion Woods ran untouched for 27 yards for the Yellow Jackets’ first touchdown.
Upon receiving the ball again, Gwynn Park pulled out all their tricks, first completing a fake punt for a first down. Stone then punched through the heart of the Wolverine defense for another 27-yard rushing touchdown to give the Yellow Jackets a 16-7 lead early in the second quarter.
Potomac punched back with an eight-play drive that ended with quarterback Dominique Anthony finding Maryland commit Corey Dyches in the corner of the end zone for a 7-yard touchdown catch.
However, Gwynn Park (6-3) scored on their third drive in a row when Mitchell elected to run for a 13-yard score. In their next series, Anthony was strip sacked with linebacker Bryan Ray returning the ball 35-yards for another Gwynn Park touchdown. The home fans cheered with excitement as the 1A team took a 14-point lead with eight minutes before halftime.
“We don’t back down from anybody,” Gwynn Park Head Coach Danny Hayes said. “We don’t care how many All-Americans you have on one side; my kids are hardnose players and we started off pretty well.”
Potomac received a spark from Pitman, who intercepted an attempted screen pass and ran 35 yards to reduce their deficit to seven. Following a fumble recovery, Anthony rushed in an 11-yard score to tie the game with less than three minutes remaining before halftime. The senior quarterback would sustain an ankle injury and would not play the second half.
Potomac struggled to generate offense after halftime as wide receiver Anthony James and free safety Eric Branch took snaps at quarterback.
With 1:48 remaining in the game, James elected to run the ball down the right sideline 48 yards for the touchdown, giving the Wolverines their first lead since the opening kickoff.
Meanwhile, Gwynn Park could not take advantage of Potomac without Anthony as Mitchell threw three more interceptions in the second half. The Yellow Jackets were shutout the whole second half, a problem that will need to be corrected before their state playoff against Pikesville.
“We just made a lot of mistakes,” Hayes said. “Dealing with the interceptions and fumbling at the wrong time, things of that nature we need to correct.”
For Potomac, the win is a building block for playoffs. Knowing now that his team can battle through adversity and mistakes created, Crump said he is confident of his team’s abilities heading into their home playoff game against Westlake on Nov. 8.
“Sometimes you can be good too early but we are coming along at the right time,” Crump said. “As long as these guys play together, the sky’s the limit for them and we can reach our goals this year.”