The challenge yesterday for Suitland's defense was a big one: stopping the Washington area's highest-scoring offense. But with middle linebacker Sidney Baskins and defensive back Armar Watson leading the way, the Rams were splendid and won their fifth consecutive game.
No. 11 Suitland had three interceptions and seven sacks and defeated No. 12 Eleanor Roosevelt, 23-7, in a game for first place in the Prince George's 4A league before 1,000 in Greenbelt.
Watson had two interceptions and added a 68-yard touchdown run that gave the Rams (5-1, 5-0) a 23-0 lead with 2 minutes 54 seconds in the first half. Baskins anchored a defensive unit that used a new look to create pressure on quarterback Wendall Williams and to keep speedy running backs Edwin Rios and Antoine Beale bottled up most of the game.
Except for Rios's 49-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter, the Raiders (5-1, 3-1) managed just 41 yards of total offense. Roosevelt, which had just four first downs, entered averaging 46.6 points per game and had won each of its first five games by at least 32 points.
"It was a big game," Baskins said. "Both of us were undefeated in the county and had to prove who is the best in the county. We proved it today. . . . We knew we had to stop their offense, Mr. Rios and [Beale]. They got that one play, but it's okay. We still won."
Because of Roosevelt's ability to spring big plays, Suitland Coach Nick Lynch altered his defense, moving ends Thomas Smith and Dominique Harris to tackle and putting defensive back Mike Sylvester and reserve Aaron Hall at end. The move made Suitland quicker and the Rams did a good job of taking away the outside from Roosevelt's backs.
"We felt we were physically strong enough inside and let those little guys outside, like Mike Sylvester," Lynch said. "I can't say how much he did in this game. It was tremendous."
Suitland took control of the game early, driving 55 yards for a touchdown on its second possession. Quarterback Duane Smith completed a slant pass to Ray Lewis for a 40-yard gain, setting up a one-yard touchdown run by Smith on fourth and goal. The extra-point kick was blocked, leaving Suitland with a 6-0 lead.
The Rams took control in the second quarter. A short punt by Roosevelt led to a 35-yard drive and a one-yard touchdown run by Jamal Barnes. After Kyle Coleman's 27-yard field goal made it 16-0, Baskins pressured Williams and Jerald Gaskins made an interception. On the next play, Watson took a sweep left, cut inside behind a block from Herschel Walker and went for a 68-yard touchdown to make it 23-0.
"They brought it to us in the first half," Roosevelt Coach Rick Houchens said. "They came out ready to play and we weren't. There's no excuses."
Note: The game was delayed for 20 minutes in the second quarter after Suitland's Linwood Dozier was injured trying to recover a fumble. He was taken off the field on a stretcher and went by ambulance to Doctors Hospital in Lanham. He returned to the stadium in the fourth quarter wearing a neck brace and said he had been treated for a torn trapezius muscle and then released from the hospital.