P.G. County powers past SMAC in the Chick-fil-A Challenge
By AJ MASON
Coming into Saturday’s fifth annual Chick-fil-A Challenge, the Prince George’s County and Southern Maryland Athletic Conference senior all-stars were tied 2-2 in four meetings.
The tie was broken when as Prince George’s won the battle at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football, steamrolling to a 47-24 victory at North Point High School.
The game was played by college-based of 15-minute quarters, rather than the regularly 12 minutes like high school, with a bevy of college recruits looking.
After winning the first two meetings, the SMAC have been outscored 102-41 in the last three contests.
“I think the last three years our physicality has taken over,” said Prince George’s head coach DaLawn Parrish, who recently led Dr. Henry A. Wise to its first-ever Class 4A state title. “Today, we just punched them in the mouth first, and our kids just did what they had to do. SMAC has some great athletes; we just made some big plays and controlled the line of scrimmage.”
Trailing 32-8 after three quarters, SMAC responded with a 16-point spurt on a rushing touchdown from running back Trey Lee of Patuxent and a 15-yard touchdown catch from McDonough’s James Harrell, trimming the Prince George’s lead to just eight points with 8 minutes 41 seconds remaining in the final period.
“I just followed the ball,” said Harrell, a Howard University commit who caught his touchdown on a tipped pass in the air and caught four balls for 41 yards in the contest. “I had fun playing with the other players in SMAC. This game was sweet, it was my last game of my high school career and I had fun. We had some mental mistakes and fumbles. It would have been good to win, but it was a great experience.”
On the opening kickoff of the second half, Prince George’s recovered a loose ball that SMAC could not get to. From there, it exploded for a 19-0 third quarter.
Then with Antonio Washington out injured, Laurel quarterback Jarvis McClam took over in the second half by throwing three touchdown passes in the third, two to Forestville’s Jourdan Ginyard and one to Northwestern’s Gerald Sawyer. McClam also added a 33-yard touchdown run on a third down and long in the fourth.
“We came out and we were able to establish the run,” Parrish said. “Once we did that, the pass opened up for us and we took it from there.”
Prince George’s sealed the game late in the fourth when Keith Payne of Charles H. Flowers ripped the ball from Lee and recovered a fumble, then Jeremiah Hall, also from Charles H. Flowers, returned a Jermaine Hunter (Calvert) interception 37 yards for a touchdown.
“P.G. has a ton of athletes and we gave them some momentum,” said SMAC head coach Rick Sneade, the frontrunner at Calvert. “On offense, they put together good drives and they made some big plays.”
Prince George’s took an 13-8 halftime lead thanks in large part to running back Darius Victor’s two second-quarter touchdowns of seven and 35 yards, powering his way through the SMAC defense with his 5-foot-9, 210 pound frame. Victor led all rushers with 136 of the team’s 274 rushing yards on 13 carries.
“He has a combination of size, speed and strength,” Parrish said. “[Victor] is a load, when he gets going he is hard to tackle.
SMAC scored early in the second after Victor’s first touchdown when Calvert’s Datavious Thomas caught an eight-yard touchdown from Zach Piazza of Huntingtown.
“We came together as a family, it was fun,” Lee said. “It was nothing better than playing high school football. We had a chance to win; we came back, but there were some pros and cons in the game.”
Piazza led all passers with 96 yards, completing six of 13 attempts. Piazza left with an injury early in the second half.
Stephen Stewart of Leonardtown, SMAC’s leading rusher, led all SMAC rushers in the contest with 64 yards on 12 carries and caught two critical two-point conversions back-to back to help the team back into the game.
“It was an honor to play against the best from P.G.,” Stewart said. “This was a great opportunity because all of us are trying to play at the college level. We didn’t want to get blown out, but we played hard. It was a crazy game.”
At halftime, McDonough's Matt McCahill and Gwynn Park's were awarded the Challenge’s $500 scholarship winners for their academic excellence through the Ralph Paden Scholarship Award fund.