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Douglass-PG football handles Milford Mill, 29-14, to claim 2A state title

In a matchup Friday evening between programs looking for a breakthrough on the state’s biggest stage, it was the Frederick Douglass defense that set the tone.

The Eagles (15-1) from Prince George’s County consistently stymied the high-octane offense of Milford Mill (13-2), holding the Millers scoreless through the first three quarters on the way to a 29-14 victory in the 2A state championship game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. It’s the first state title for Frederick Douglass since 2014 and spoiled the championship bid for a Millers’ program aiming for its first crown since 1987.

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“Definitely proud of our team, a very resilient team,” Douglass coach Monty Sutton said. “Just not being able to have football during this past year with COVID in 2020 ... losing our DB coach Duane Bridges, it’s been tough. Being here now, it was one of those things like ‘He’s here, but he’s not here.’ These guys committed themselves for him this season to win a championship.”

Douglass-PG players celebrate winning the Class 2A state championship game against Milford Mill at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. December 3, 2021.
Douglass-PG players celebrate winning the Class 2A state championship game against Milford Mill at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. December 3, 2021. (Kim Hairston/The Baltimore Sun)

Shortly before halftime on the Millers’ final drive of the second quarter, Milford Mill senior quarterback Tahseen Howard aired out a deep pass looking for senior wide receiver Mykhai Logan in the end zone. Instead, Douglass senior cornerback Bryce Dunn perfectly timed his jump for the under thrown ball and intercepted it — energizing the Eagles’ sideline and fans.

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That interception was a microcosm of the Eagles’ opportunistic defense that forced three first half turnovers, as the Millers offense struggled to find a consistent rhythm. By the time Milford Mill finally got going offensively in the fourth quarter, Douglass was already ahead by three scores, 22-0.

“Those are the things that we really preach for us not to do those things and for our defense to cause those type of turnovers,” Sutton said. “It’s always a great thing when our defense can come off the field and get the ball back to the offense.”

Eagles’ junior quarterback Trey Manley efficiently operated the offense, finishing 7-for-13 through the air with three total touchdowns. He added 43 yards on the ground.

Senior running back Vincent Oliver supported in the run game with 84 yards on eight carries. Both Dunn and fellow wide receiver senior Jaxon Sutton displayed their big-play ability by combining for five receptions, 150 yards and a touchdown.

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While Douglass’ offense operated efficiently, Milford Mill’s offense stalled for much of the evening. The Millers came into the final averaging 36.8 points per game and 213 yards on the ground.

The Eagles stout defensive line held Milford Mill to 130 rushing yards on 47 attempts, while Howard finished 8-for-19 for 141 yards through the air.

Still, Milford Mill head coach Reggie White made a point postgame of acknowledging the effort that got his team into position to compete for a championship.

“I couldn’t be more proud of these guys,” White said. “[A record of] 12-2 is not where we wanted to be, we wanted to end up 13-1, but a lot of people don’t even get where we were. We’re not satisfied, we’re not done, we’re hungry.”

The turnover woes started early in the game for the Millers on their second possession. Senior Chris Butler was swallowed up in the backfield by Douglass senior defensive end Immanuel Martin who stripped the ball and recovered the fumble for the Eagles. The following play, Douglass capitalized on the good field position as Manley rolled out and delivered a strike to Sutton for a 22-yard score, giving the Eagles a 6-0 lead.

While Douglass’ defense dominated in the opening quarter, Milford Mill’s offense showed signs of life on its first drive of the second quarter. However, the brief momentum was squandered when junior Daysen Shell fumbled in the red zone and the Eagles recovered.

Still a one-possession game with 3:20 remaining in the first half, Douglass once again turned to its passing game to spark the offense. Manley connected with Dunn for a 36-yard gain on a perfectly executed double move down the sideline.

Douglass-PG receiver Bryce Dunn, right, catches the ball ahead of Milford Mill's Chris Butler in the first half of their Class 2A state championship football game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium Friday.
Douglass-PG receiver Bryce Dunn, right, catches the ball ahead of Milford Mill's Chris Butler in the first half of their Class 2A state championship football game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium Friday. (Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun)

Three plays later, Manley capped off the drive with a seven-yard score near the Eagles sideline that pushed their lead to 14-0 with 1:54 remaining in the first half after a successful two-point conversion.

The second half was a similar story as Douglass’ defense stopped the Millers’ opening drive. On the ensuing possession, Manley once again connected with Dunn for a 33-yard gain.

Shortly after, Oliver punched it in from two yards away as sophomore Davin Brown tacked on the two-point conversion to make the lead 22-0 early in the third quarter. The score stayed that way heading to the fourth.

Early in the fourth quarter, the Millers’ offense found the end zone for the first time as Butler rushed it in from 1-yard out, set up by a 45-yard pass between Howard and Logan. However, the Eagles’ offense responded right back with a five-play, 53-yard, drive that pushed the lead to 29-6.

Milford Mill tacked on another scoring drive with less than five minutes remaining as freshman running back Monte Royster found a seam from 19 yards away. However that turned out to be the final points of the game for either team, with Douglass celebrating on the field with the championship trophy.

Milford Mill QB Tahseen Howard, center, and Desmond Sampson walk off the field after their loss to Douglass-PG in the Class 2A state championship football game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Friday.
Milford Mill QB Tahseen Howard, center, and Desmond Sampson walk off the field after their loss to Douglass-PG in the Class 2A state championship football game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Friday. (Kim Hairston/The Baltimore Sun)
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