Steven Smothers' senior season at Franklin didn't end the way he wanted it to, with him celebrating alongside his teammates at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore after winning a third consecutive state championship.
But, after losing with his team in the regional final, the West Virginia commit had one more opportunity to play in Maryland, at the Crab Bowl at McDaniel in Westminster on Saturday. And Smothers, a four-star recruit, made his final local game as a high school player memorable in a matchup of some of the state's top talent.
Smothers earned Player of the Game honors after catching three passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns to lead Team Baltimore to a 31-28 win over Team Washington at Kenneth R. Gill Stadium.
"It's pretty good because I didn't win a state championship this year so at least I get to go out in my last game with a win," Smothers said.
Smothers said his godbrother Tavon Austin, the former Dunbar and West Virginia star who now plays for the St. Louis Rams, told him to "come over here and show out for the fans." In 2008, Austin was the player of the game in the inaugural Crab Bowl.
And so Smothers produced. He caught the game's first score late in the first quarter on a 27-yard pass from John Carroll quarterback Kurt Rawlings. And late in the third quarter, Smothers gave Team Baltimore the lead for good after getting behind Team Washington's coverage and catching a perfect rainbow from Rawlings for a 46-yard score.
"A lot of all-star games, you don't … always get timing and all that down," said Smothers, who earned All-Metro first-team honors for the third time. "He's a great quarterback. He's smart. Pretty much second day, passes were on the money like he's been in my life for three years throwing me passes, so it's pretty good playing with him."
With limited time to practice together and prepare for the contest, both teams had occasional trouble with communication and being on the same page. Team Baltimore was penalized nine times for 82 yards, including a few delay of game and false start penalties, and Team Washington had five penalties for 43 yards.
But behind the running of Gilman running back Antonio Dupree and the arm of Rawlings, Team Baltimore overcame any chemistry issues and fended off Team Washington's counterpunches.
Dupree rushed for 123 yards on 13 carries, and his 6-yard touchdown run in the third quarter gave Team Baltimore a 14-7 lead.
Rawlings, the All-Metro Offensive Player of the Year, went 6-for-16 for 125 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. He also had a 38-yard scramble and caught a 15-yard pass on a trick play early in the second half.
"I think the coaches did a good job," Rawlings said. "They did a good job getting us experience with the new plays because that's a new playbook for me, a new playbook for everybody. They did a great job."
Team Washington, though, didn't make it easy. North Point wide receiver Devonte Young caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from Northwest quarterback Mark Pierce late in the second quarter to send the game into halftime tied. Avalon wide receiver and running back Jaron Woodyard, who finished with 87 yards from scrimmage, scored twice in the second half, once to tie the game at 14-14 and later to bring Team Washington to within 24-21.
Even after Rawlings hit Meade tight end Will Huff for a 6-yard touchdown pass to give Team Baltimore a 31-21 lead with 5 minutes, 56 seconds remaining, Riverdale Baptist cornerback Zecariah McPhearson, a Penn State commit, returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown.
Down by three, Team Washington got the ball back twice in the final two minutes but couldn't complete its comeback.
For Rawlings, the performance capped a historic season in which he threw 52 touchdown passes and led John Carroll to an undefeated season. He was able to do it Saturday alongside three of his teammates who were also selected to the Crab Bowl.
He took note of the talent he was playing with, like Smothers, and against. So in the final game of his high school career, he made sure to let his teammates do what they do best.
"These are the best athletes in the state from both D.C. and Baltimore, so you've just got to get the ball in their hands and let them make plays," Rawlings said. "Steve made some great plays. Everybody was making some great plays out there. … Overall, it was a great game. It's fun being out here with everybody. It was a good experience."