It wasn't the prettiest of victories. But then again, Suitland's state title run last year wasn't always aesthetically pleasing.
Suitland's Monty Clayton scored the game's only touchdown on a first-quarter run and No. 8 Suitland's defense held its ground the rest of the way as the defending Maryland 4A champions defeated visiting Oxon Hill, 7-0, yesterday in the Prince George's 4A teams' season opener.
"The defense isn't anything new," Suitland senior linebacker Navorro Bowman said. "We've had that here for the last 50 years. I knew the defense was going to step up, and they knew the expectations we had from last year. They knew we were defending [the title] and they came out and played."
The Rams limited Oxon Hill to 79 yards of total offense. Bowman, an All-Met last season, picked up where he left off last season. One of only four returning defensive starters, Bowman amassed a game-high 15 tackles.
He and Clayton accounted for nearly all of the Rams' offense as well, helping manufacture a 10-play, 53-yard drive during the fourth quarter that secured the victory. Clayton ran for a game-high 83 yards on 20 carries and Bowman ran 12 times for 73 yards.
"The way we run the ball, we like to pound it and pound it and pound it," Clayton said. "When we're in a tight game, we're going to try and run the ball as much as we can and keep the clock running. Navarro pounded it up the middle and I took it outside."
Suitland began its first drive on Oxon Hill's 45-yard line, and on the sixth play Clayton ran 14 yards into the end zone. But Oxon Hill -- behind 10 tackles by Travis Blair -- proved its defense could slug it out with the Rams, denying Suitland any protracted possessions until late in the game.
The tenor of the game wasn't much of a surprise considering the teams' meetings last year, a 7-6 Rams victory during the regular season and a 19-0 win in the playoffs.
"It was our first game and I'm going to take the victory regardless of the way it was," Suitland Coach Nick Lynch said. Oxon Hill Coach Randolph Warren "does a very good job getting his kids prepared. So I'm going to take this one."