For Jayden Ashby, Einstein’s 16-14 win over Paint Branch was both the biggest team victory and best individual performance in his three seasons at the school. But it was topped off moments after the final whistle, when his father ran down the field, gave him a big hug and told him he was proud.
With Kyle Ashby, an Air Force member, set to deploy to Turkey this week, the Titans’ 5-foot-8 junior cornerback collected four interceptions including the game-clinching pick to give his father a memorable send-off Friday night in Kensington.
“I just was like, thinking about my parents, my mom and my dad,” Jayden Ashby said. “I was just playing for him. I was hoping he was happy.”
Einstein (4-2) hadn’t beaten Paint Branch since 2012, and hasn’t won much of anything the past two seasons. But after a 1-9 campaign, the Titans under Coach Mike Bonavia have emerged as a competitive Montgomery County team and are on a three-game winning streak after beating a team they lost to 42-0 a year ago. Bonavia is in his second stint coaching Einstein after leading the Titans from 2007-10 before spending two seasons at Sherwood.
“We were told the defensive backs needed to step up for this game, and I decided to step up,” Jayden Ashby said. “We didn’t want to think about [last year’s loss]. All we wanted to think about is, we could win this.”
Ashby and his teammates watched hours of film leading up to Friday’s game, focusing on Paint Branch’s offense and talented senior quarterback JD Guerrero. They executed their game plan from the opening kickoff, which senior wide receiver Christian Greaves returned past midfield. Senior kicker Sammy Vierra hit his first of three field goals on the first drive. Greaves, who has five Division I offers after missing most of last season with an ankle injury, caught a 38-yard touchdown from quarterback Jason Clingman, and the Titans took a 10-0 halftime lead.
“We didn’t know what to expect from them, but we studied them and came out with a ‘W’,’ Greaves said.
The Panthers (3-3) stormed back but were ultimately undone by their six turnovers. Ashby spoiled a Paint Branch red zone opportunity with an interception late in the second quarter, then picked off a deep ball after halftime. Late in the fourth quarter, with the Panthers driving for a potential game-winning score, Ashby jumped in front of a curl route for his final interception.
“We’re the team that everybody looks at and says ‘Who’s next?’ ” Bonavia said. “We have bunch of guys that are on the same page and playing for each other.”
Overtimes Bethesda-Chevy Chase needed before Jerome Hilliard ran 13 yards for the game-winning touchdown and Hasin Rosales caught an interception in the end zone to seal a 20-12 victory against Poolesville.
Trent’s breakout season continued with six catches, 192 yards, two receiving touchdowns and a 75-yard kickoff return for a touchdown as the Patriots (3-3) snapped a three-game losing streak with a 28-22 win against Rockville.
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