The Jaguars’ three regular season losses had all been one-possession games, and even though their defense had been stout all afternoon, they weren’t about to leave anything to chance.
“We knew we had to put them away,” Holland said. “I saw they had single coverage on one of my best receivers, and I just had to hit him in stride.”
Holland hit junior wide receiver Keith Payne on a slant, and Payne juked past his defender and scored a 23-yard touchdown with 4 minutes 27 seconds remaining to give the 16th-ranked Jaguars a 14-7 victory in Forestville.
The win gave C.H. Flowers (9-3) its first regional championship in school history after the Jaguars lost in the region final in six of the previous eight years, and sets up a date with third-ranked Quince Orchard (12-0), the 4A West champion, in the state semifinals Friday night.
“It feels good to get that curse off our back,” Payne said. “We want to go out there now and win it all.”
Both defenses — and specifically both teams’ defensive lines — dominated in the first half, and the game remained scoreless until late in the third quarter.
Junior running back Anthony Squire gave Suitland (10-2) a 7-0 lead on a three-yard touchdown run with 4:36 left in the third quarter, after senior quarterback Nyema Washington had found Brandon Mincy with a 60-yard completion to set up the score.
Flowers finally started moving the ball on its next possession, a 15-play, 80-yard drive that senior running back Edwin Walker capped with a one-yard touchdown run that tied the score at 7 with 8:57 to play.
Flowers senior James Brown recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff to set up Holland’s winning touchdown pass to Payne, and senior Justin Rawlssealed the win with an interception with 1:10 remaining, setting off a celebration on the Flowers sideline.
“We just had a bad string of plays,” Suitland Coach Ed Shields said. “You can’t do that and expect to win a playoff game.”