OXON HILL – The Wheaton Knights remembered they were playing in the 3A South regional finals in the final minute of the game against the Potomac Wolverines.
The Knights scored two touchdowns in 30 seconds, more points than they’d scored in the previous 47 minutes of play. It was too little too late. The Wolverines put the game on ice in the third quarter, eventually winning by a score of 50-24.
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The game marked the second year in a row Potomac has played in the regional finals. Wheaton hasn’t appeared in the post season since 1996, when the Knights won the state championship.
“The guys put in a lot of work to get to this point,” said Wolverines head coach Ronnie Crump. “This is the culmination of their work in the offseason and responding to last year’s disappointing loss to Thomas Stone.”
The game served as running back showcase as backs from both teams posted big numbers.
Potomac senior Calil Wilkins and junior Tayon Fleet-Davis combined for 230 yards on the ground and three touchdowns.
Wheaton seniors Dominyck Sims and David Adeleke rushed for a total of 240 yards.
The Wolverines didn’t waste time before scoring. Wilkins broke away from the Wheaton defense on the second play of the game and carried the rock 45 yards to pay dirt.
Fleet-Davis made his presence known a few plays later. He dropped his shoulder and fought his way through the pile at the line of scrimmage and over the goal line for a 10 yard touchdown.
Wheaton answered on the next possession.
Adeleke ran 45 yards down the field before Potomac senior cornerback Tyler Tobias wrestled him to the ground. Senior Victor Barkley’s 1-yard quarterback sneak gave the Knights six points.
Head coach Ernie Williams decided to go for the two point conversion and it worked: Sims caught Barkley’s end zone pass to tack on two points.
A minute later, Potomac junior running back Derique Culp raced down the field for a 65 yard touchdown on a punt return. The two point conversion failed as junior receiver Je’Quan Campbell tripped on the muddy field.
The referees penalized Wolverines junior quarterback Javonte Howard for intentional grounding in the second quarter. The penalty occurred in the end zone and resulted in a Wheaton safety to pull the Knights within 10.
Howard redeemed himself with his own quarterback sneak for a touchdown on second-and-goal from the two yard line.
Tobias, who also plays wide receiver, caught Howard’s pass for a two point conversion.
Knights senior defensive end Nicolas Stainback sacked Howard. However, the Wilkins and Fleet-Davis one-two punch drove down the field and made up for the lost yardage.
Wilkins danced into the end zone for a 30-yard score, his second of the afternoon.
“I go into every game to have fun and do my job,” said Wilkins. “I run the ball hard and I stay focused.”
Not to be outdone, senior receiver Andre Hall caught Howard’s pass in stride and ran for a 15 yard touchdown. The versatile Hall then completed a pass to senior tight end Cordell McClain for the two point conversion.
Wolverine sophomore tight end William Luckey ran up the gut for a 12-yard score to start the fourth quarter with a score of 50-10.
The Knights knew a comeback of that magnitude was virtually impossible. That knowledge didn’t stop sophomore Alfonso Salazar from speeding down the sidelines for a 70-yard touchdown. Junior DeQuawne Mitchell kicked the extra point.
Wheaton recovered an onside kick with less than a minute left to play. Barkley snuck into the end zone for his second score of the game. Mitchell’s extra point was good.
The victory ensures the Wolverines are still alive in their quest for their first state championship in 10 years.
Williams expressed a positive outlook on his team’s performance and future.
“The most important part about today is that we were here,” he said. “That’s where it has to start. You can’t build a tradition until you start one. Today was the beginning of hopefully a great tradition where this becomes the norm for us.”
“Our goal was to dominate and finish,” said Wilkins. “We practiced hard all week and we came out and dominated and got the W.”