Digital Harbor’s football players were getting a little tired of losing to Douglass in close games. Two years ago, they fell 6-0. Last year, they lost 25-20 on the last play of the game.
On Friday, the Rams got their revenge in the Baltimore City Division I opener.
Both teams struggled on offense throughout the game, so the visiting Rams needed just one big play to win and they got it in the final minute. Receiver Noah Beane broke open down the right side and caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Michael McClain for the only points of the game with 57 seconds left.
The 6-0 win was the first for Digital Harbor over the Ducks since 2011.
“In the first half, we got off to a slow start,” said Beane, a senior, “but in the second half, we had to get it together and drive down the field, win this game. It meant a lot to us.”
Rams senior cornerback Tyrese Kwanna thwarted any chance of a Douglass comeback with an interception on the first play of the Ducks’ final drive — his second pick of the half.
“First half, I came out, I messed up,” Kwanna said. “I told Coach I got him second half to make up for it and bring the team back. … We had some mistakes, but fourth quarter, we all came out and competed.”
Both teams seemed disjointed on offense. Douglass coach Alonzo Lee said developing a new quarterback, junior Antwon Frederick, and some other newcomers requires time to build chemistry. Digital Harbor coach Ronald McClary said players missing practice and a few injuries took a toll on his offense.
Both teams made key plays on defense throughout the game. Douglass turned the ball over three times and the Rams, twice. In addition to Kwanna’s two interceptions, Rams cornerback Kangtissu Young-Bey recovered a fumble. Douglass safety Andre Owens and linebacker Warren Perry each had an interception.
Each team managed to get inside the other’s 20-yard line just once all afternoon. Digital Harbor didn’t get there until the final minute. After a Ducks drive stalled on the Douglass 48-yard line with 1:59 left, the Rams needed just two plays to reach the end zone, helped along by a Ducks personal foul.
McClain hit Keith Pugh with a 14-yard pass, and the Ducks were flagged for a late off-the-ball hit on the sideline to tack 15 yards on. That set the Rams up on Douglass’ 23-yard line. On the next play, Beane got a step on two Ducks defensive backs, caught the pass from McClain and raced to the end zone. Although the two-point conversion pass attempt failed, the Rams had all the points they would need.
“It’s a huge win,” lineman Montrelle Pogue said. “I’ve played for Digital Harbor, this is my fourth year, and we’ve never beaten Douglass. My freshman year, I played JV and we lost to them in overtime in the [Baltimore City] championship and last year, we were up and the quarterback just threw it up on the last play of the game and we lost, so we got a little bit of revenge.”
The Ducks (1-1), coming off a nondivision win over Carver last week, had their best chance to score on the final drive of the first half.
Owens set up the opportunity. He picked off McClain and ran the ball back about 37 yards to the Digital Harbor 40-yard line with under a minute to go. Frederick then connected with slot receiver Shamal Webb, who escaped several tackles to pick up 22 yards. However, Frederick’s final pass, with two seconds left, was incomplete.
“They did a good job defensively,” Lee said. “I think both teams’ defenses played real well. I knew we had to play well offensively because they have a pretty good offense. I thought it was going to come down to where it could go either way. We’ve got to execute. We didn’t execute very well and that’s one of the things that got us.”
The Rams (1-1), who lost to Oakdale last week, were told by their coaches after the game that they have to learn to start a game and finish it.
“We came out very flat,” McClary said. “Last week, we were able to move the ball; we just weren’t able to finish. With the lack of participation in practice — and we had a couple people injured, a couple people sick — the cohesiveness didn’t really kick in until the fourth quarter. It was really big for us, because we’ve never really finished a game like we should. Today just shows the guys that we can finish and we can be who we want to be.”
DH 0 0 0 6 — 6
DO 0 0 0 0 — 0
DH—Beane 23 pass from McClain (pass failed)