POTOMAC – The Potomac High School football team refused to walk away from the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) 2A semifinal match without a win.
The Wolverines trailed 6-0 early but responded with two unanswered touchdowns and a field goal to seal the home win, 16-6, over New Town (Owings Mills) on Nov. 29 to advance to the state championship for the first time in more than a decade.
Though it was held well below its season scoring average, Potomac (12-1) used a valiant defensive effort to keep New Town from scoring a touchdown all evening.
While Potomac quarterback Dominique Anthony is known for his proficient passing ability, he and the Wolverines utilized a potent rushing attack to carry the offense. The 6-foot-1 senior completed 12 of 27 passes for 155 yards and scored both of his team’s touchdowns on scrambles from a yard out and 11 yards out to lift the Wolverines to their eighth straight win.
Potomac Head Coach Ronnie Crump said he encouraged the pass-first signal-caller to make use of the rushing game if that is what it took to win the game.
“This is not really a kid that wants to run; he wants to throw the ball from the pocket. I said, ‘you gotta do what you gotta do to win the game,’” Crump said. “He’s been my starter for three years. We believe in each other, and I believe in him, and (Anthony) did what he had to do to get in that end zone.”
New Town established a solid running game in the first quarter to drive the offense downfield into scoring position on both of its drives. The Titans’ first drive of the game ended with a 34-yard field goal by Samuel Okezie-Imo with 6:21 left. After forcing a quick three-and-out, Okezie-Imo drilled another field goal from 38 yards out to give New Town a 6-0 lead heading into the second quarter.
At that point, Crump made a game-shifting defensive adjustment that kept the Titan offense from even reaching field-goal range for virtually the last three quarters. He had the Wolverines switch from man-to-man coverage to a zone coverage, he said.
“It was good to see the defense hold it down for the offense. We didn’t get clicking like we wanted to, but we were able to kill the clock by running the ball. We wore them (New Town) down,” Crump said, also highlighting how important the ground attack was.
“We just kept pounding away. We kept the ball out of their hands the best we could, and the defense came through today, didn’t give up a touchdown.”
In their first drive of the second quarter, Potomac began at New Town’s 31-yard-line. Anthony rushed for 8 yards to the 23 and Dadrian Carter-Williams piled on a few more yards. On third-and-short, New Town received a pass interference penalty that put the Wolverines at the 11-yard line. On the next snap, Anthony muscled his way to the end zone for an 11-yard score to give his team a 7-6 lead that they never relinquished.
Neither team scored for the rest of the second, but linebacker Gregory Washington recorded an interception that gave Potomac much-needed confidence heading into the locker room.
The Wolverines continued to rely on Carter-Williams to pick up rushing yards for their offense to begin the second half. After three of Anthony’s passes fell incomplete, Potomac had to settle for its first field-goal attempt of the night. Sophomore Xavier Gwinn’s 38-yard kick went wide left as the score remained 7-6 just beneath the seven-minute mark of the third.
The Titans could not pick up much yardage on the ensuing drive, giving the Wolverines the ball back. Carter-Williams closed the third quarter out with 21 yards on five carries to put Potomac right back in scoring range.
At the start of the fourth, Gwinn redeemed himself by drilling a 38-yarder to give Potomac a 10-6 advantage.
New Town quarterback Brian Williams and the Titan offense did all they could but were unable to advance into Potomac territory for the duration of the fourth. Meanwhile, the Wolverines added a touchdown on a 1-yard run by Anthony with 7:49 left in the game. The scoring play was set up by a 20-yard Carter-Williams rush and a 33-yard reception by Corey Dyches.
With a final chance of reducing the deficit, Williams completed a pass to receiver Jeremiah Williams that was fumbled and recovered by Potomac to secure the win, as the Wolverines clinched a spot in the state final for the first time since 2005.
“We knew the defense was holding them (New Town) pretty good, so all we needed was to put it in one or two times, and we were gonna have the game, and that’s what we did,” Anthony said after the win. The Old Dominion commit said the team will focus on the “little things” as they prepare for the MPSSAA 2A state title game.
New Town Head Coach Mike Savage said his team missed some assignments at crucial moments in the game but was proud of the season the Titans put together, finishing as the last team standing from Baltimore County.
“We shut down their main threat. They were just a better team, that’s all. I give kudos to those guys, they wanted it more, they made more plays than we made,” said Savage, who is in his second year as head of the program.
“We had a couple of breakdowns that cost us. They capitalized on it…those guys made great adjustments, and we didn’t. It just caught up to us this time, that’s all.”
Carter-Williams contributed with 123 yards on 25 carries for Potomac. Williams, a 6-foot-2 senior, was 7-of-18 for 69 yards passing and amassed 62 yards rushing to lead the Titans (9-4).
The Wolverines will square off against Middletown at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis on Dec. 7 at 7 p.m.