Jason Crawford did not play defense in Parkdale's first two games of the season. Instead, the star running back watched from the sideline when the Panthers did not have the ball, encouraging teammates but disappointed as the Riverdale school struggled.
Knowing his best player was becoming frustrated, Parkdale Coach Bob Johnson found a way for Crawford to work out his frustration: Play defense. It turned out to be a wise decision. Placed at middle linebacker for the first time in his career, Crawford made 14 tackles, returned an interception 55 yards for a touchdown and scored all of Parkdale's points as the visiting Panthers edged High Point, 28-27, in a Prince George's 4A game Saturday night.
Crawford rushed 14 times for 191 yards and two touchdowns, returned a kickoff 81 yards for a score and rushed for two two-point conversions. His 28 points were the most by one Parkdale player in Johnson's 12 seasons at the school.
"We said, 'We've got this great athlete on the sideline, what are we saving him for?' " Johnson said. "We decided the best way for him to take some frustration out was to let him play defense.
"He never came off the field so he couldn't be frustrated. He had to stay focused."
Crawford, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound senior, scored on runs of 51 and nine yards against High Point. He has scored eight touchdowns for Parkdale (2-1) this season.
Just as versatile was DeMatha junior Dominique Stewart. The wide receiver-free safety scored touchdowns on a 99-yard kickoff return, a 66-yard reception and a 55-yard fumble return to help the No. 4 Stags to a 34-12 nonleague victory over Eastern on Saturday. Stewart, who previously had scored only one touchdown in his career, also made his first career interception.
DeMatha (2-0-1) plays Good Counsel in its Washington Catholic Athletic Conference opener on Saturday.
Wilde Lake's 31-game winning streak against Howard County opponents ended Saturday night when Howard rallied to defeat the Wildecats, 33-14. Running back Gerald Smith, who has unofficially committed to Penn State, rushed for one touchdown and had a 47-yard run to set up another touchdown, and fullback Travis Irving scored on runs of 17 and 49 yards for the Lions.
"We just didn't play well and they did," Wilde Lake Coach Doug DuVall said. "Year in and year out, we've won a lot of games. We'll come back and win some more. You can't win them all." . . .
One team that has kept winning is Sherwood (3-0), which routed Wootton, 43-8, behind the play of junior running back Eddie Beccles. He rushed for 192 yards and three touchdowns and also had a 15-yard touchdown catch. Beccles has scored 10 touchdowns this season.
Since the start of the 1994 season, the Sandy Spring school's only three regular season losses were to top-ranked Seneca Valley. The schools will not meet this season because Seneca Valley switched from Maryland 4A to 3A.
Both No. 2 Hylton and No. 13 North Stafford scored late touchdowns to pull out narrow victories and improve to 3-0.
Hylton drove 77 yards in 17 plays to score the decisive touchdown in the fourth quarter of a 19-14 home win over No. 11 Dunbar. It was the Bulldogs' 19th straight victory, and their second this season by five points or fewer.
To sustain the winning drive, senior quarterback Kenny Irby converted two short fourth-down runs, and Hylton benefited from a personal-foul penalty after a missed field goal attempt that gave them the ball at the 7-yard line. They scored two plays later.
In Dumfries, North Stafford senior quarterback Chris Ashinhurst completed 26 of 38 passes for 245 yards, but it was his one-yard touchdown run with 13 seconds remaining that gave the Wolverines a 21-14 victory over Potomac. North Stafford had recovered a fumble at the Potomac 35-yard line with 1 minute 42 seconds left to set up the winning score.
In Case You Missed It
Dan St. Clair had two of Blake's six interceptions in a 26-0 win over Kennedy on Saturday, giving the Sandy Spring school its first varsity victory. . . .
Running back Sheldon Johnson rushed for one touchdown and returned a fumble 54 yards for another score to lead Riverdale Baptist to a 20-0 victory over Victor Cullen of Frederick on Saturday. It was the first victory this season for the Upper Marlboro school, which did not field a team last season. . . .
With its 47-12 victory over Phelps on Friday, defending Maryland 1A champion Forestville is averaging 48.3 points per game. But the Knights are not the area's highest-scoring team. That distinction belongs to No. 3 West Potomac, which defeated Washington-Lee, 61-15, on Saturday. The Wolverines are averaging 51.7 points per game. Fullback Geoff Todd, a 5-6, 226-pound senior, rushed for three touchdowns Saturday and has scored 10 touchdowns this season. . . .
With its 42-0 victory over Linganore of Frederick County on Saturday, Douglass has outscored its three opponents, 101-0. . . .
Two of the most surprising teams in the Washington area have been Bowie and Loudoun Valley, each off to 3-0 starts. Both teams face sizable challenges this week; Bowie plays at No. 12 Suitland, and Loudoun Valley hosts undefeated Handley. . . .
H.D. Woodson and Oxon Hill will complete their lightning-suspended game at 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 27. Woodson was leading the Clippers, 42-26, with 3:04 left in the final quarter.
In yesterday's only action, Ireton defeated Potomac School, 12-3, in a nonleague game in Alexandria. Ireton improved to 2-2. Potomac School dropped to 0-1.
Saturday's late games: Woodberry Forest defeated The Hill School (Pa.), 35-0; Douglass beat Linganore, 42-0; and Lackey defeated Leonardtown, 18-13. Urbana vs. Bel Air was postponed.
Staff writer Preston Williams contributed to this report.