Wise vs. Suitland football: Pumas swarm Rams to win Maryland 4A South region title
By Eric Detweiler,
Stuck at its own 1-yard line in the third quarter of Saturday’s Maryland 4A South region final against Wise, Suitlandlined up with an empty backfield and sent quarterback Wesley Wolfolk back to pass. The junior signal-caller took three steps into the end zone and never even had a chance to cock his arm before seniors Jai Franklin and D’Angelo Niler swarmed him for a safety.
Paced by its defense, third-ranked Wise never allowed No. 10 Suitland to get comfortable in a 41-6 win in Upper Marlboro that clinched its fourth region title in five years. The Pumas (12-0) avenged last fall’s playoff loss to the Rams and advanced to host East region champion Meade (10-2) in a state semifinal next Saturday.
“The memo all week was if they don’t score on offense they ain’t going to win the game,” said senior linebacker Frank Porter, who returned a third-quarter interception for a score and also recovered a fumble. “We gave up a fluke [touchdown] at the end of the game, but honestly, all game they couldn’t do nothing on us. . . . That’s the Wise way.”
Wise seized control from the start and never let go. The Pumas scored twice before Suitland (10-2) picked up a first down and earned a running clock with a 35-point lead by the middle of the third quarter.
Junior Micah Till capped the game’s opening drive with a 27-yard touchdown catch from senior Isaiah Black. The 6-foot-5 tight end reached over a defender to haul in a jump ball on third down for a lead three minutes in, but the Pumas did most of their damage on the ground, combining for 254 yards and three touchdowns as a team.
Porter, an Old Dominion recruit, led the way with 89 rushing yards and a touchdown on eight carries, and the team also received a boost from the unexpected return of leading rusher Chase Powell. After missing last week’s playoff opener with a high ankle sprain, Powell finished with 40 rushing yards on a team-high 12 carries.
Black dropped back to pass only three times in the game, completing two for touchdowns and benefitting from a pass interference penalty on the other.
“We kept it easy in the huddle,” said Black, who also rushed for 38 yards and pulled down a fourth-quarter interception. “I was just talking to my boys, and I was like ‘You keep blocking, I’ll call [the play] right and we’ll dominate.”
Suitland eliminated Wise, 21-20, in the region semifinals last season, and the Pumas — who have appeared in a pair of state finals but never won the title — had not beaten the Rams since the 2009 regular season.
In their first meeting this season, Wise left little doubt, holding Suitland scoreless until Ohio State-bound senior Taivon Jacobs pulled down a 25-yard touchdown pass from Wolfolk on the last play of the game.
“I’m just happy for the fellas,” Wise Coach DaLawn Parrish said. “None of these kids had beat Suitland before. I talked all week about us as a varsity program being 1-4 against them, and they finally got that done.”