Suitland 16, C.H. Flowers 6
Suitland Coach Nick Lynch preached to his defense all week about the importance of staying patient against C.H. Flowers's explosive offense. Navorro Bowman listened and understood.
But with No. 15 Flowers facing fourth and two from the 12th-ranked Rams 17-yard line early in the fourth quarter of yesterday's Maryland 4A South Region final, Bowman's instincts took over.
The junior linebacker followed the flow of the Jaguars' running play to his right, burst through a gap and dropped running back Ramond Dixon for a three-yard loss. The tackle stopped the Jaguars' best drive of the second half and all but sealed the Rams' 16-6 victory in front of 2,000 in District Heights.
"I wasn't being patient that time, but I just knew I was right," Bowman said. "I made the right call and made the play."
Suitland (11-1) advanced to the Maryland 4A semifinals, where it will play East Region champion Broadneck. C.H. Flowers finished 10-2, with both losses coming to the Rams.
Suitland, which shut out Oxon Hill in the region semifinals last week, turned in perhaps an even better defensive performance yesterday against a C.H. Flowers team that was averaging 31.7 points. The Rams forced four turnovers, all in the first half, held the Jaguars to 198 yards of offense and a season low in points, and sealed the game with a safety when Tanard Morton and Daveion Palmer sacked Evan McCollough in the end zone with less than two minutes to play.
"I never thought we'd hold them to six points," Lynch said. "Our defense did one heck of a job. . . . We didn't let them break any big plays."
The defensive effort was critical because the Rams could get little going on offense. They compiled just 41 yards in the first half but picked off two passes, recovered two fumbles and managed to go into halftime ahead, 7-6.
C.H. Flowers went up 6-0 late in the first quarter when McCollough threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Raymond Brown on fourth and 24. But a fumble recovery midway through the second quarter gave Suitland the ball at the Jaguars 31-yard line, and the Rams needed just two plays to score -- a 13-yard pass from Marta Harley to Mark Duncan and an 18-yard touchdown run by Robert Sanford.
Suitland got the ball first in the second half and put together its best drive of the game. The Rams went 70 yards on 12 plays, capped by Monty Clayton's 17-yard touchdown run, and took a 14-6 lead. Bowman, who had no carries in the first half, set the tone. He rushed for 5, 4, 6 and 13 yards on the first four plays of the drive and finished the game with a team-high 72 yards on 12 carries.
On the ensuing possession, C.H. Flowers drove from its 20-yard line to the Rams 17, but Bowman made his momentum-shifting tackle.
"I tell them to be patient, but when they feel something, when they get that itch, I tell them make sure you go full speed," Lynch said. "When I saw [Bowman] coming through, I said, 'Just make the tackle.' And he did."