Douglass 35, Gwynn Park 0
The last time Douglass lined up against No. 7 Gwynn Park, it got into an early hole and was not able to bounce back. But the Eagles had a feeling they could play with the Yellow Jackets.
Yesterday in the Maryland 3A East Region final, Douglass affirmed that belief by taking advantage of four Gwynn Park turnovers, building an early lead and cruising to a 35-0 victory in Brandywine.
The win gave the Eagles their first 3A East Region title and sent them into the 3A state semifinals. Douglass (10-2) will play at Lackey on Friday night at 7.
"We knew that we were capable of winning," said Douglass Coach J.C. Pinkney, whose team scored 27 points off turnovers. "We didn't know we were going to win in this decisive fashion, but I'll take it."
The Eagles' defense turned up the intensity early on, forcing Gwynn Park out of its rhythm. On the third play of the game, Jerrel Wedge intercepted Yellow Jackets quarterback Andrew Banks's pass at the Gwynn Park 30-yard line. Six plays later, Douglass quarterback Davon Gray found wide receiver Dwayne Smiley in the middle of the field for a 19-yard touchdown.
Less than a minute after the first Douglass score, Gwynn Park running back Regis Austin fumbled going around right end, and safety Devin Hough gathered the ball before returning it 12 yards for a two-touchdown lead.
"We've been coming out flat, and the past few games teams have been getting up on us," said Gwynn Park wide receiver Rob Surratt. "We still felt we could come back if we caught a break, but the ball seemed to bounce their way every time."
The Yellow Jackets struggled to muster any kind of offense. They did not run an offensive play on Douglass's half of the field until their first possession of the second half, and each time they started developing momentum, the Eagles' defensive front would make a big play.
"To get beat up front in the trenches takes the emotion out not only of your line, but also takes the emotion out of your backs, your quarterback and your wide receivers," said Douglass defensive end Patrick Mimms, who had two sacks and was part of a unit that registered 12 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. "We feel as though the line is the heart and soul of the team, and if we're doing our job then there's nothing we have to worry about."
In a deep hole, Gwynn Park was forced to throw often. After attempting 65 passes all season entering the game, the Yellow Jackets threw 24 times yesterday. On their last pass of the day, quarterback Steve Floyd was intercepted by Derron Hall, who returned it 40 yards for the final score. Hall also scored on a 62-yard scamper in the third quarter.
"We didn't play well last week on defense," said Pinkney, referring to Douglass's 36-26 victory over River Hill. "We wanted the defense to show well today, and they sure enough did."