Few D.C. area rivalries can match the consistent, meaningful matchups promised by the annual showdown of perennial Maryland 2A contenders No. 12 Douglass and Gwynn Park. And few games can match the fast-paced, big-play-filled, overtime slugfest the two played Saturday at Gwynn Park.
While the afternoon rain was intermittent, the shower of big plays never seemed to slow. Gwynn Park made the final one, scoring on its first play in overtime before Darius Spagley forced Douglass to fumble away its try. Anthony Chesley picked it up and returned it 90 yards to seal a 40-28 Yellow Jackets win.
“Whoever made the bigger play was going to win,” Gwynn Park Coach Danny Hayes said. “Thank God we made it.”
That play was one of several YouTube-ready moments in a game that began when Gwynn Park (3-0, 1-0 Prince George’s 3A/2A/1A) fumbled the opening kickoff, but then got the ball back with an interception on Douglass’s first play from scrimmage.
That quick swing sparked the Yellow Jackets, who seized a 20-6 lead at the half. But Douglass’s Devin Butler, who threw for 184 yards and two touchdowns, and Mikale Makle, who rushed for 113 yards, helped the Eagles claw back and take a 28-20 lead with five minutes to go.
“[When they came back] we were down at first,” said wide receiver Davonte Young, who caught two passes for 40 yards. “But then we said ‘Hey, it’s just adversity.’ And we fought through it.”
A 62-yard sideline strike from Yellow Jackets quarterback Jay Adams to wide receiver Quinton Harris set up the tying score, which sent the game to overtime.
The big plays theme held in the extra period. On Gwynn Park’s very first down, Adams tossed a ball to the front corner of the end zone, where it tipped off Harris’s hands, looking like a sure incompletion.
It wasn’t, as Young had never lost sight of the ball, and grabbed it just before it hit the ground for the go-ahead score.
“When I turned back around [Adams] was rolling, and when the quarterback rolls on that play we have to come back to him,” Young said. “So I came back . . . I knew it was coming to me or [Harris], and he tipped it, and I caught it.”
His Yellow Jackets forced the Douglass (1-2, 0-1) fumble two plays later.
“It feels like we won a championship when we beat them,” Young said. “We lost to them last year, but we had to get them back, they’re our rivals.”