Playing football in his backyard while growing up, C.H. Flowers quarterback Johnathan Holland always dreamed of a situation like this: his team would be trailing in a championship game and he would sling a Hail Mary pass into the end zone for the game-winning score.
What happened on Saturday afternoon at Bladensburg nearly lived up to his imagination, except it didn’t happen in a title game. Holland’s 49-yard Hail Mary pass to receiver Keith Payne with time expiring propelled the Jaguars to a thrilling 25-20 comeback win. Holland’s pass from midfield towards the right sideline fell perfectly between Mustang defenders and into the arms of Payne, who ran into the end zone from about five yards out. (See video of the play here.)
“I didn’t know what to say,” Holland said. “I just ran there and jumped on them. I was the first one down there from the 50-yard line. It was like a Brett Favre play.”
In a meeting of two unbeaten teams, C.H. Flowers and Bladensburg played a back and forth first half, with the Mustangs holding a slim 14-13 lead. Early in the fourth quarter, Dequan Boatwright’s five-yard pass to Tim Adade put the Mustangs up 20-13.
But C.H. Flowers (3-0) stormed back. After the Jaguars recovered a fumble, running back Edwin Walker (168 rushing yards on 17 carries) cut the lead to 20-19 on a two-yard touchdown. The Bladensburg (2-1) defensive front stopped Walker’s two-point conversion run.
When the Mustangs got the ball back, they managed only one first down trying to run the clock out. On fourth and 22 on its own 47-yard line, Bladensburg Coach Derek Tyler said he called for a running play hoping to run the remaining five seconds off the clock. He also wanted to avoid a blocked punt or great punt return. But the play, to the amazement of Tyler and his coaches, only ran three seconds off the clock. It then gave the Jaguars a chance for one final play.
Holland said he knew the slim chances of converting the final play but he was going to throw to the right side of field where Payne and Larry Smith, both 5-foot-11 but with good leaping ability, could go for the ball. And when Payne scored, Holland was as shocked as everyone.
“It’s a once in a lifetime play,” he said. . . .
Douglass (2-1, 2-0) put itself in a strong position atop the 3A/2A/1A standings with a 14-6 win over Gwynn Park (2-1, 1-1). David Lawrence and Chris Wilson each scored on second-quarter touchdown runs to propel the Eagles, who along with Surrattsville (2-1, 2-0) are one of only two teams who are 2-0 in the league. . . . Jameel Kirkland scored the go-ahead touchdown in Forestville’s 13-7 win over Theodore Roosevelt, as the Knights became the only 3A/2A/1A school to improve to 3-0 overall. . . .
Crossland (2-1, 1-0) gave up 18 unanswered points to end its 32-28 loss to McKinley Tech. The Cavaliers hadn’t allowed a point before Saturday. . . . Antonio Washington threw for 176 yards and two long touchdowns as Potomac (1-2, 1-1) earned its first win of the year against Friendly (0-3, 0-2). The Patriots have lost their three games by a combined score of 108-8.
Concerned with his team’s 20 total penalties through two games, Damascus Coach Eric Wallich got creative last week, asking his scout team players to try to stir up a little trouble at practice.
On Wallich’s orders, the backups pushed after the whistle in full-team drills and tried to goad the first-teamers into retaliating. If the starters reacted in a way that could earn a personal-foul flag, play stopped briefly while the whole team did up-downs as punishment.
Weighed down by personal fouls and presnap offensive penalties, No. 15 Damascus scored just two total touchdowns in regulation in its first two games. The Hornets weren’t perfect Friday against Wootton with four penalties for 25 yards, but Wallich credited the improved discipline with helping them break out of the offensive funk in a 49-12 win.
“When you have that many penalties, it’s hard to move the ball down the field consistently,” Wallich said. “We knew we needed to get that under control, and we wanted to do whatever we could to cut down on the mental errors that can cost you.”
The Hornets (3-0) relied on defense to spark a season-opening overtime win at Clarksburg and a Sept. 10 shutout against Watkins Mill. On Friday, the offense got up to speed quickly as they blew past the Patriots (1-2).
Junior running back Trevor Patton finished with a career-high 213 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries. Sophomore quarterback Chase Williams found junior wide receiver Zach Bradshaw for a pair of scores and ran for another.
Patton began the season as a starting cornerback and backup running back behind junior John Hanley, but with Hanley sidelined by a broken collarbone suffered in the opener, Patton has focused almost exclusively on offense and become the centerpiece of the Hornets’ attack with 400 rushing yards in three games.
Damascus has now won 21 straight games against Montgomery County competition, dating back to 2009, and Wallich is confident that this year’s squad has plenty of room left for improvement.
“We’re a very young team,” Wallich said, “so we feel like if we can stay in the hunt for the playoffs, by the end we’ll be pretty good.” . . .
Wheaton Coach Joe Ortega worried his undersized squad was discouraged after getting pushed around in blowout losses to Northwestern and Einstein to start the season, but the Knights made plays down the stretch to complete a 20-18 comeback win against Blair on Friday.
Senior cornerback Travarus Rodgers’s interception gave Wheaton (1-2) a late possession in Blazers territory, and two plays later, senior quarterback David Sales — celebrating his 18th birthday — ran in the go-ahead score with just less than four minutes remaining. Blair (0-3) failed to move the ball on four straight passing plays, allowing the Knights to run out the clock.
Wheaton — one of just two 2A teams in Montgomery County — used its smaller lineup as an advantage late in the game, pushing the tempo with a no-huddle offense that wore down the Blazers.
“I’m hoping here the rest of the year we’ll match up a little bit better,” Ortega said. ”We met Saturday morning, and they seemed more confident. I think they’re starting to believe me when I say that we have to just keep working hard.”
Franks was able to first rejoin his team for an hour of practice on Wednesday — four days after his procedure — then was present for 90 minutes of the team’s sessions on both Thursday and Friday.
He spent the first half of Saturday’s game in the press box, but he couldn’t help himself and went down to the field for the second half of the win.
“It was different because I didn’t have a normal week. My mind was elsewhere [in the days before the game],” Franks said. “But I called the plays. That’s what I had planned to do, and I did it.”
Franks had a doctor’s appointment scheduled for Monday to remove the stitches from the surgery, and he hoped to receive clearance to continue full-time work with his team then.
The longtime coach said he still feels a little weak, but it’s not the first time he has returned to his team quicker than expected after a major midseason operation.
While coaching at Calvert in 2000, Franks suffered a heart attack in the week leading up to the Cavaliers’ penultimate regular season game, and he underwent quintuple bypass surgery.
Franks was back in time to watch the regular-season finale from the front seat of his car, then coached three playoff games from the press box to lead Calvert to the only state championship in school history.
“Football is what his purpose is,” said Calvert Head Coach Rick Sneade, who was an assistant under Franks on the 2000 championship team and for six years at Huntingtown through last season. “His program is something he cares deeply about, and he’s going to put his well-being in peril to make sure he gives his kids his best.” . . .
Patuxent (3-0) is priding itself on the versatility of its players, and junior quarterback/defensive back Travez Lee was about as versatile as a player can be Friday in the Panthers’ 48-7 win over Northern (1-2). Lee threw for two touchdowns, ran for two touchdowns and returned an interception for a touchdown to lead the onslaught against a Calvert County rival. . . .
North Point (3-0) took care of Charles County rival Thomas Stone (0-3), 20-7 on Friday, setting up a matchup of unbeatens Friday when the Eagles will host Patuxent. . . . Chopticon’s offense rebounded after getting shut out in Week 2, and the Braves (2-1) beat Great Mills (1-2), 38-22.