Digital Harbor's football team finished last season 1-9, but the Rams overcame two huge hurdles to double last year's win total in just their second game — against one of their toughest Baltimore City opponents in a game completed Monday.
Not only did the Rams have to resume a game they were leading when it was suspended by lightning Saturday night, but they gave up three touchdowns before scoring twice in the final four minutes to edge Patterson, 35-34.
First-year Rams quarterback Dominic Barnes threw a 50-yard pass to Devante Conyers with 3:44 left and then raced around the right side to complete the critical conversion run that cut Patterson's lead to 34-29 with 3:44 to go.
After a short Clippers' punt less than a minute later, Barnes turned a broken third-down pass play into a 50-yard touchdown run to give the Rams a 35-34 edge with 1:44 to.
"I had to improvise," Barnes said. "I had just thrown a touchdown to Devante Conyers and I knew they were going to key on him, because he's one of my main deep threats, so I wanted to take the game over. I knew the game was in my hands and I like it when the game depends on me."
Barnes, a Rams basketball player, played Pop Warner football until high school, when he opted to concentrate on basketball. His return has given the Rams a boost, but they have a senior-laden team with a lot of other talent.
Against Patterson, Barnes rushed for two touchdowns and passed for another well as running in the conversion that was so critical in giving the Rams their one-point edge.
After Barnes gave them the lead, Marquiese Walker picked off Craig Oliver's pass on the Clippers' first play from scrimmage to seal the comeback.
The big finish proved quite a turnaround from last season's 64-20 loss to the Clippers.
Giving up three touchdowns at the start of Monday's action, "was a little bit of a smack," Rams coach Keith Rudolph said, "but it also made us remember last year. I think a lot of the kids did not want to go through what they went through last year. That's where they fought against adversity, came back and made it happen. I'm extremely proud of them."
Conyers, a junior veteran said, "This is a real big win for us, because they smacked us in the face last year and we've been talking about this since last year. Through the summer and all, we were just working hard and it paid off."
The game, played at Poly, resumed Monday with 8:01 left in the third quarter and the Rams holding a 21-14 lead. The Rams had all the momentum when the game was interrupted Saturday night, but the Clippers (1-1) seized it Monday, scoring three straight times to take a 34-21 lead on Craig Oliver's 67-yard touchdown pass to Pete Carter with 4:01 left.
Oliver, a senior who stepped into the quarterback role for the first time this season, threw three touchdown passes in the game to Carter and one to Maurice Green.
After he suffered bruised ribs in the first half Saturday, Oliver's status was iffy for Monday, but he was on the field almost every play.
The Clippers, however, struggled to move the ball on the ground in part because of a line that is still coming together after graduating all but one starter.
"The biggest part that I thought really hurt us was, besides Dominic running the ball, we couldn't run the ball," Patterson coach Corey Johnson said. "When they scored the touchdown and made it 34-29, we had the ball with three minutes left. We went backward. We could not gain positive yards on the ground. That forced us not to be able to milk the clock and keep the ball in our possession for that last three minutes."
P 8 6 14 6 -- 34
D 7 14 0 14 -- 35
D—Barnes 60 run, Millner kick
P—D.Beasley 40 run, Carter pass from Oliver
D—Young 31 pass from Johnson, Walker run
P—Carter 46 pass from Oliver, run failed
D—Walker 76 kick ret., run failed
P—King 28 pass from Oliver, pass failed
P—Carter 36 pass from Oliver, Greene run
P—Carter 67 pass from Oliver, pass failed
D—Conyers 50 pass from Barnes, Barnes run
D—Barnes 51 run, pass failedCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun