DAMASCUS – The swarm silenced the scream Friday night at the Hornets’ Nest as Damascus clobbered arch rival Seneca Valley and sent the Screamin’ Eagles whimpering into the off-season, 45-3.
The 3A West championship game started and ended with a Seneca Valley fumble. The Eagles fumbled five times throughout the night; Hornet defenders recovered two of them.
Before either team played a single down, however, the Eagles were at a disadvantage.
Junior running back Adrian Feliz-Platt pulled his hamstring in warm-ups and the coaching staffed downgraded him to “out” after appearing in only one series.
Feliz-Platt functioned as a critical part of Seneca Valley’s offense and posted four touchdowns and nearly 200 yards rushing in last week’s victory against Linganore.
“Adrian is one of our top ball players,” said Eagles head coach Fred Kim. “When you game plan, he’s a big part of it, not only on offense but on defense and special teams. It really caused us to scramble.”
“He’s the second best player I’ve seen this year,” said Damascus head coach Eric Wallich of Feliz-Platt. “[His injury] changed the dynamic of what they do.”
On the opposite sideline, Damascus running back Jake Funk did what he always does. The senior played in three quarters and ran for just under 200 yards and four touchdowns.
Junior running back Markus Vinson split the carries with Funk, picking up two touchdowns and 90 yards on the ground.
It didn’t take long for Vinson to strike as the Eagles reeled from Feliz-Platt’s loss.
He raced out of the backfield on Damascus’ first possession and juked his way into the end zone for the first touchdown of the night.
Senior kicker Joseph Curry operated with surgical precision, going 6-for-6 on extra point attempts after missing one extra point last week and four the prior week. He also nailed a 31-yard field goal attempt.
In the second quarter, Vinson shoved an Eagles defender out of the way and broke loose up the middle. He high-stepped into the paint for a 59 yard touchdown.
Vinson said he thought about the 21-3 victory at Seneca Valley in October while entering this game.
“I wanted to play super aggressive,” he said. “They beat us up pretty badly last time even though we won. We just wanted to come out the more aggressive team. We knew we could win.”
The Eagles became reacquainted with Funk a few plays later. The senior cut through the pile of players along the offensive line with ease and raced into the end zone untouched for a four-yard touchdown.
Hornets senior defensive end Colin McLaughlin recovered a fumble to return possession to Damascus with a fresh set of downs at the Seneca Valley 19-yard-line.
Funk swerved through the Eagles defense for his second touchdown of the evening to put the home team up 28-0 in the second quarter.
Seneca Valley’s only score of the game came before halftime.
Although senior kicker Rey Genovez slipped and fell during his 24-yard field goal attempt, he still powered the ball far enough to boot it through the uprights.
Funk turned on the turbo speed during his team’s next possession, running untouched 81 yards into the end zone to put his team up 38-3 at halftime.
There was also no catching a streaker who interrupted the Damascus Poms’ halftime performance.
Clad in just skivvies and a beanie, the nameless deviant raced across the field, gesturing obscenely at the Seneca Valley bleachers. He jumped the gate and disappeared into the night before security could reach him.
Seneca Valley had one last gasp in the third quarter. Senior cornerback Zae Wright intercepted Damascus senior quarterback Julian Kinard at the two-yard line.
The Damascus defense held its ground, however, and Seneca Valley ended up three-and-out.
Vinson and Funk fought for every last yard as the Hornets drove down the field. Funk leaped into the end zone for his fourth touchdown as Damascus went up 45-3.
“We knew coming in there were bigger stakes, a regional championship,” said Funk. “My team played a great game and that’s all I can ask for.”
“We have to lick our wounds and figure out where we need to improve in the off-season,” said Kim. “We beat a very good Linganore team. We beat a very good Northwest team. Unfortunately we just couldn’t beat Damascus.”
The undefeated Hornets (12-0) will host either Wheaton or Potomac next week in the state semi-finals.
Wallich appeared apprehensive about the game.
“We were in a situation a few years ago where we had a really good team and we won a really big game like this and lost the next week,” he said. “We need to seize the moment and not be satisfied. This is just one step.”