The way Saturday's Class 1A state football semifinal started, it appeared Douglass' dream season might come to a screeching halt a game short of the Ducks' goal
In a forgettable opening nine minutes against Cambridge-South Dorchester, the Douglass' first three drives stalled on such mistakes as a fourth down sack for a 17-yard loss and a dropped pass that would have gone for a long touchdown. Then, snap over the punter's head set up Cambridge's first touchdown.
"We just rallied the guys up after the botched snap," Ducks coach Elwood Townsend said. "We told them we had to focus, we had to keep our composure, and we did. We knew we were better than that, so I just had to reiterate that to them and we went right back to work."
And then they rolled.
The Ducks, showing the same resilience that pulled them through last week's double-overtime victory over Edmondson in the regional final, started forcing Cambridge to make the mistakes and then converted four of the Vikings' five turnovers into touchdowns in a 54-13 win at Poly.
The West Baltimore team that had never won a football playoff game until this season is now 13-0 and headed to M&T Bank Stadium to play Fort Hill for the state Class 1A title Saturday at noon. Fort Hill, a two-time state champion from Cumberland, has been to the state final eight times, but not since 2008.
The Ducks, emotional after last week's win, savored this victory with a joyous celebration and doused Townsend with a Gatorade shower.
"You got to appreciate it. These moments don't come often," quarterback Camron West said. "We're going to M&T and that's going to be a great experience. It's something you'll have for the rest of your life."
West, 8-for-14 for 159 yards, threw four touchdown passes — two to Michael Owens and one each to Charles Smith and Agin Hasan — and ran for a touchdown. Da'Quan Alexander and Azariah Bratton-Bey also scored rushing touchdowns.
Despite the huge offensive numbers, the defense drove the victory.
"Players like No. 14 Davon Monette made a lot of plays for us," West said. "Him and the other guys stepped up when we needed them the most and we capitalized on [Cambridge's] mistakes."
After the Vikings took a 6-0 lead on quarterback Brian Lindsay's 4-yard run, the Ducks answered on their next drive with West's 11-yard touchdown pass to Owens. Alexander added a 2-yard run, Bratton-Bey broke a 43-yard scoring run and West hit Smith with an 11-yard pass for 28-6 lead two minutes and 21 before the half.
The Vikings (10-3), however, picked up a little momentum going into halftime with Lindsay's 28-yard touchdown pass to Woodland Benton with one minute and 11 seconds to go, cutting the Douglass lead to 28-13.
"We had success at the end of the first half when we went no huddle on them," Vikings coach Jack Coleman said. "Those big guys didn't like it when we went uptempo. In the third quarter we were going to go uptempo, try to empty their gas tank and hopefully we were going to get some stops, because their punt unit struggles and our punt block unit is one of our strongest special teams. We were going to try to make our move there, but obviously it didn't work very well."
The Vikings got the ball after the break, but Darnell Edwards intercepted Lindsay on the second play of the drive and West needed just two plays to reach the end zone on a 16-yard run.
Cambridge's next drive lasted four plays before Monette picked off Lindsay. No sooner had West hit Hasan with a 27-yard touchdown pass did Monette grab another interception. He then raced 45 yards for the third touchdown in a little more than three minutes. The 48-13 lead kicked in the running clock with seven minutes and 35 seconds left in the third quarter
"Their line wasn't as physical as ours, and we were able to get penetration, and that's why we were able to get those interceptions," Monette said of defensive linemen Marquis Mason, Anthony Walker, Antwuan Johnson and Daniel McManus.
The Ducks have outscored the opposition, 132-27 in the playoffs and the Ducks are allowing an average of just 5.3 points per game.
"Our strong point all year is our defense," Townsend said. "Like I said earlier in the week, if we came out and we could prevent them from running the ball on us, then we had a really good chance of winning. Our defensive line, they really stepped up today and our backers filled the gaps like we needed them to."
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