This isn’t how things usually go in the 2A South rivalry between Douglass and Gwynn Park. Neither team is supposed to beat the other twice in a row — it hadn’t happened since Douglass beat the Yellow Jackets on a forfeit in 2007 and in 2008.
Gwynn Park had a troublesome habit of winning the regular season matchup in years the teams met in the playoffs, and so it was Douglass that always seemed to emerge from the teams’ postseason rematches, most recently in 2009 and 2012.
But this year, the annual rivalry wasn’t so even. When undefeated — and of late unchallenged — No. 9 Gwynn Park hosted tough but flawed Douglass in the 2A South semifinal Saturday, the Yellow Jackets led from the first quarter on, looking a step, a pass, and a tackle ahead the whole way in a 42-32 win.
The Yellow Jackets will travel to No. 12 Patuxent (11-0) for next week’s region final.
“That was the message, that we couldn’t beat Douglass twice,” Gwynn Park Coach Danny Hayes said. “That was the motivation for the day.”
The Yellow Jackets won 40-28 in overtime in a back-and-forth game on a chilly, drizzly day in September, a game from which neither side could take solid confirmation of 2013 superiority. But on a similarly cool and drizzly day and on a another slippery and frustrating field, Gwynn Park (11-0) left little doubt Saturday, particularly in a second half in which the Yellow Jackets’ offense looked nearly impossible to stop.
Asked the difference between this year’s Gwynn Park team and those his Eagles have frustrated in the past, Douglass Coach J.C. Pinkney said, “Their quarterback, that kid is awesome.”
Senior Jay Adams masterminded another potent showing from the county’s top-scoring offense, completing 10 of 14 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns, hitting his teammates over the middle while they still had a step on defenders or tossing balls that arrived just in time to be out of a defender’s reach but well within the grasp of a streaking receiver.
“He’s fast as I don’t know what, the kid throws accurate balls and he’s a great leader,” Pinkney said. “He willed those kids to win.”
The Yellow Jackets showed they could score on the ground as Omar Branch ran for two touchdowns and Eddie Gross another. They showed they could turn defense into offense when Terrell Tomlinson returned an interception 43 yards for a touchdown. But most significantly against a Douglass team that habitually erases deficits, the Yellow Jackets bent but never broke as Devin Butler, who rushed for 116 yards and threw for 150, tried to pull the Eagles (8-3) back time and again.
“I felt like we had to stay on top of them,” senior defensive back Anthony Chesley said. “They could always come back. That’s what they’re known for.”
Teams avoided throwing to Chesley’s side of the field all year, and he showed why in the fourth quarter, single-handedly killing two drives when Douglass, desperate for quick-hitting big plays, threw his way. He picked off two passes in the game’s final 10 minutes to seal the win.