Williams gained 143 yards on his limited touches, including a 56-yard run on the Eagles’ first offensive play, and subsequent runs of 33 and 38 yards that kick-started two other Douglass possessions.
A converted wide receiver, Williams has rushed for 394 yards and more than 10 yards per carry in five games since he switched positions, providing a valuable complement to the Eagles’ passing tandem of freshman quarterback Devin Butler and senior receiver Paul Harris.
“We moved him to the backfield and that’s been maybe the best decision we’ve made as far as player adjustment,” Douglass Coach J.C. Pinkney said. “He’s taken us to a whole ‘nother level in our run game.”
On Saturday, Williams repeatedly gashed a Gwynn Park defense that had recorded six shutouts this season and had allowed only 15 total points in its previous eight games.
Harris – a Tennessee recruit who is one of the area’s best deep threats – forces opposing defenses to spread the field to cover him, creating the space for a speedy back like Williams to run through.
As the Eagles (11-1) head to their second straight state tournament – beginning with a state semifinal Friday against Edmondson (11-1) – expect Williams to be a major factor.
“That kid,” Pinkney said, “he’s a major [reason] for the success that we’ve had.” . . . .
Junior running back Arnez Bowens rushed for 165 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries – his third straight 100-yard game – as the Hurricanes (11-1) avenged their only loss of the regular season to the Wolverines (8-4).
Junior defensive back Bryson Curtis returned an interception 36 yards for Huntingtown’s last touchdown, one of three passes the Hurricanes picked off.
Huntingtown will visit 3A North champion Milford Mill on Saturday, looking to return to the state title game for the first time since 2009.
The Mustangs, making their first postseason appearance since 2001, had allowed the Patriots to tie the game at 14 by halftime. In the third quarter with the game still knotted, Old Mill’s Devin Salisbury returned a punt to the Meade 10-yard line. The Patriots seemed poised to seize the lead, and the momentum, from the Mustangs. Meade safety Jason Thomas had other ideas.
The senior jumped in front of a pass from Old Mill quarterback Brady Ludwig and returned it 97 yards for a touchdown, putting the Mustangs back on top and firmly swinging the momentum back in Meade’s favor.
“They threw that pass and Jason recognized it immediately,” Meade Coach Rich Holzer said. “You can see it on film, he starts moving on the receiver before the quarterback even starts his throwing motion. I know he knew exactly where the ball was going before that quarterback started his throwing motion. He undercut it and took it 97 yards. It was a great play.”
Old Mill fought its way back into the game late though, tying the game midway through the fourth quarter with a 12-yard touchdown strike from Ludwig to wide receiver Carl Chance and an extra point that bounced off the cross bar on its way through the uprights.
“We were like, you got to be kidding me. That was the worst kick known to man and it somehow made it over,” Holzer said.
The Patriots recovered a squib kick on the ensuing kickoff at the Meade 40-yard line and again seemed poised to take the lead, driving the ball to the Mustangs’ 25-yard line with the game tied at 21. But Meade’s defense came up with another big play to thwart the Patriots, when Mustangs’ defensive back Korey Brooks picked off Old Mill’s Shawn Brown on a halfback option pass into the end zone.
From there, the Mustangs drove 80 yards and scored the go-ahead touchdown on a five-yard scramble by Marcus Smith with 22 seconds left to put Meade up 28-21 and finally bury the Patriots for good.
“I knew we could block it to get it in the end zone,” said Meade linebacker Hunter Cox, who was called in to block as a tight end on the game-winning play. “I was more worried if Marcus tried to bounce it or if he tried to cut it up and got tackled. I was more worried about that, but I knew we could set the edge and get Marcus to the outside and it was up to him to get it in the end zone.”