Northwest 27, Damascus 24

Reprinted from yesterday's late editions

Northwest High's football team has an abundance of weapons on offense, defense and special teams, and Friday night it needed all of them to knock off defending Maryland 4A champion Damascus.

In front of an overflow crowd of approximately 5,500 in Germantown, the fourth-ranked Jaguars never trailed but had to hang on to defeat the second-ranked Hornets, 27-24. It was Northwest's first-ever victory over Damascus. Northwest opened in 1998 and had lost all four of the teams' previous meetings, including three by shutout. Many of the Jaguars' former players were on hand to watch last night's triumph.

"It feels too good, too good," said Northwest senior quarterback Ike Whitaker, whose team improved to 5-0. "All our teams in the past wanted to beat them, so all of them came back to this game, and we got a win."

It took contributions from all of the Jaguars' playmakers, especially members of their outstanding senior class, who had suffered losses to Damascus (4-1) for three consecutive years. Consider the seniors' impact:

* Whitaker ran for a score and completed 7 of 16 passes for 138 yards and a touchdown to classmate Andrew Thomas.

* Versatile Salim Koroma returned the game's opening kickoff 96 yards for a score and compiled 219 all-purpose yards.

* Running back-linebacker Tony Nelson rushed for 68 yards and led a hard-hitting defense that kept Damascus All-Met running back Matt Reidy relatively in check (30 carries, 119 yards).

* Wide receiver Alphonzo Griffin caught two passes for 44 yards.

* Terrence Peete contributed a key late sack.

* Darren Brownlee picked off a pass to end the Hornets' final drive.

"Going into the season we knew that for a lot of our playmakers, it was our senior year," Brownlee said. "It doesn't matter who makes a play. As long as someone makes a play, we're happy as a team."

Koroma wasted no time making the first. He fielded the opening kickoff at the Jaguars 4-yard line, burst through a hole in the center of the field and out-ran the Swarmin Hornets to the end zone. He then scooped up a low snap on the point-after attempt, scrambled and threw to Peete for the two-point conversion and an 8-0 lead.

Damascus, which had won nine consecutive games dating from last season, answered with a methodical 16-play, 66-yard drive that lasted 9 minutes 2 seconds and was capped by a one-yard touchdown from senior quarterback Jason Sprankle. It set the tone for a back-and-forth affair, as the Hornets would not go away. When Reidy scored from 15 yards out and Sprankle added the two-point conversion with 3:56 left, the Hornets trailed 27-24.

Damascus got the ball back once more, but Peete's sack and Brownlee's interception allowed Northwest to celebrate.

"A win like this," said Northwest Coach Randy Trivers, "it snowballs the confidence when you get in tough situations."

Northwest's Salim Koroma makes elusive move in the Jaguars' first win against defending Maryland 4A champion Damascus in school history. Northwest had lost all four, three by shutout. Northwest's Ike Whitaker exults after throwing a touchdown pass to Andrew Thomas.