Facing a fourth-and-four deep in DuVal territory in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s Maryland 4A South semifinal, Suitland Coach Ed Shields contemplated his team’s passing options. As the Rams prepared for the critical play in a timeout, the coach only changed his thinking when senior Anthony Squire asked for the ball.
Squire took a hand-off going left and picked up enough for the first down, continuing a drive that finished with Suitland’s final score in a 21-14 win over the Tigers in Lanham.
Shields had good reason to trust the running back on a day in which Squire piled up a season-high 247 rushing yards and two touchdowns to carry his team into its second straight region final. The 10th-ranked Rams (10-1) avenged their lone regular season loss and will meet unbeaten No. 3 Wise, a 28-7 winner over Eleanor Roosevelt, on Saturday in Upper Marlboro with a spot in the state semifinals on the line.
“He said, ‘Let me go get it,’” Shields said of Squire’s fourth-down rush. “We needed it, and we put it in his hands. He went and got it like he said he would.”
Suitland fell to DuVal (9-2) 26-6 on Oct. 6, and Shields’ squad didn’t start out much better on Saturday, fumbling the ball away on its first offensive play.
But the Rams asserted control once Squire had a chance to get going. They reached the end zone on their second and third drives to take a 14-0 lead they would not relinquish.
Squire scored on a 3-yard run in the opening quarter and then did the bulk of the work on the 98-yard touchdown drive in the second half that included his fourth-down conversion. Suitland held the ball for more than 10 minutes on the scoring march.
“We knew that in the playoffs it’s win or go home, so we had to come out stronger than last time,” said Squire, who has 1,601 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns this season. “We didn’t have a choice.”
In its first playoff appearance in five years, DuVal had a chance to tie late after senior Karee Mines scored on a 1-yard run. The Tigers recovered the ensuing onside kick, but Ohio State-bound senior Taivon Jacobs snuffed out the drive with an interception.
Squire then picked up a first-down, ensuring DuVal never got another opportunity on offense.
“It’s a blessing to go on to the next game and face an even more competitive team,” Squire said. “We can’t relax because we’ve got bigger and better goals, but it’s a good feeling.” ...
Playing without top running back Chase Powell, Wise still managed to race past Eleanor Roosevelt and continue its perfect run. The Pumas (11-0) rushed for 233 yards and four touchdowns as a team. Senior Franklin Porter led the way with 100 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries, while junior Antwan Benjamin reached the end zone twice.
Powell, who leads the team with 1,358 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns, suffered a leg injury in the first half of last week’s 32-8 win over Bladensburg. Coach DaLawn Parrish said Powell was scheduled to see a specialist on Monday to determine the extent of the injury but it is unlikely he will be available for Saturday’s region final.