Douglass quarterback Camron West could hardly control his emotions after Saturday's Class 1A South regional championship.
The junior had been hit late after throwing an incomplete pass in double overtime against Baltimore City rival Edmondson, drawing a penalty that moved the Ducks five yards closer to the end zone.
West then shook off the shot and on the next play handed off to Da'Quan Alexander, who ran four yards for the touchdown that sent the undefeated Ducks to a 20-14 win and the state semifinals for the first time in school history.
"I felt as though if we lost, it was going to be on me," West said. " I just tried my best to make a play. That hit — it was a big hit and I think that motivated my team. On that touchdown run, they were blitzing the right side so I changed it to the left side. We scored."
Douglass (12-0) will host Cambridge-South Dorchester (10-2) at Poly Saturday at 1 p.m. with the winner advancing to the state title game on Dec. 7 at M&T Bank Stadium.
In overtime, during which each team gets four downs to score from the 10-yard line, Douglass turned the ball over on its first possession and Edmondson's Brian Campbell just missed a 22-yard field goal attempt. The Red Storm elected to go first in the second overtime and Donyae Moody forced quarterback Daniel Williams to fumble on the 1-yard line and recovered the ball for the Ducks.
On the second play of the Ducks' drive, Edmondson's Derrick Tate tackled West after he threw a pass. That penalty put the Ducks on the 5-yard line with a first down. Two plays later, Alexander scored the game winner.
"The call was a dive to the left," Alexander said. "I seen the hole and I just kept pushing until I got to the end zone."
For Douglass, which had never won a football playoff game until this year, the victory came with a stellar defensive effort that forced eight Edmondson turnovers. Samuel Thomas recovered a fumble that led to the Ducks' first touchdown, Donyae Moody recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown and Antuawn Johnson recovered a couple of fumbles. Michael Owens had a key interception early and freshman corner Zaywhon Johnson also had a big game.
"This is just the kind of battle that's starting to be the Douglass-Edmondson type of matchup," Ducks coach Elwood Townsend said. "Defensive struggles. You have your offensive plays in between, but at the end of the day, the defense has always won these games the last few years and nothing's changed."
The Ducks have allowed just 56 points all season and came into the game outscoring the opposition by an average margin of 33.1 points. The Red Storm (7-5) has allowed just 101 points.
It appeared the anticipated defensive battle would not materialize when the teams put up 20 points in the first 10 minutes. Douglass led until the final nine minutes when a Red Storm safety tied the game at 14.
Edmondson fumbled on its first possession of the game and Thomas recovered. West then hit Owens with a 24-yard touchdown pass and ran for the 2-point conversion an 8-0 lead less than two minutes into the game.
The Red Storm answered with Malik Alston's 4-yard scoring run, but Edmondson fumbled on its next possession and Moody recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. The Ducks led 14-6 with 2:17 left in the first quater.
Then defense took over until Williams hit Walter Cooper with a 4-yard touchdown pass. The Ducks gang tackled Darrell Woods on the conversion-run attempt and Douglass held onto a 14-12 lead.
After trading turnovers following an on-side kick, Edmondson tied Douglass with a safety when West was tackled in the end zone with 8:50 left in the game.
The Red Storm, which won its only state title in 2006, had been to the Class 2A semifinals the last two years before moving to 1A along with Douglass this fall. Edmondson had beaten Douglass five straight times, including twice last season, and had its chances in overtime Saturday.
Edmondson got within six inches of scoring on both possessions in overtime but were set back on their first possession by a false start before fumbling away the second opportunity.
"We had too many turnovers," Edmondson coach Corey Johnson said. "I'm not saying we were going to score on our possessions, but that really hurt us in terms of field position that could have set us up late in the game to score, but my guys played their hearts out."
E 6 0 0 8 0 0 -- 14
D 14 0 0 0 0 6 -- 20
D—Owens 24 pass from West (West run)
E—Alston 4 run (run failed)
D—Moody fumb. rec. (pass failed)
E—Cooper 4 pass from Williams (run failed)
D—Alexander 1 runCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun