- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Behind 28-21 with seven minutes to play, the Patuxent Panthers scored the final 14 points to surge past the visiting Gwynn Park Yellow Jackets from Prince George's County, 35-28, in the Class 2A South Region football championship game on Friday night.
It marks Patuxent's first regional championship since 2001.
“I'll put my buddies in SMAC up against any of these teams,” Patuxent head coach Steve Crounse said, alluding to the battles the Panthers had been in all season. “The games we play week-in and week-out prepare us for this. But Gwynn Park is a well-coached team with a ton of weapons, and their D-line played very well.”
After Gwynn Park's Aaron Parker recovered a fumble in the endzone and a successful two-point conversion put the visitors up 28-21, Patuxent (12-0 overall) responded with an eight-play, 71-yard drive and tied the game on Tyler Crounse's 6-yard touchdown run and point-after by kicker Eric Chaconas
The Panthers' defense held on the next Gwynn Park series, and a short punt left Patuxent in prime field position at the Gwynn Park 35-yard line.
It took four plays for Patuxent to drive for the game-winning score, with Crounse again doing the honors, this time from 13 yards out. Chaconas' point-after pushed the lead to the eventual final margin.
Patuxent outgained Gwynn Park (11-1) 379-263, but the Panthers lost four fumbles on the night, including two that turned into touchdowns.
Parker scored the game's first points after scooping up a loose ball and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown. The fumble came as the result of an errant snap – a theme for the night for the Panthers.
But Patuxent answered with Crounse's 56-yard touchdown pass to Rafiq Douglas. The teams then traded touchdowns the duration of the game until Patuxent scored two in a row on Crounse's fourth-quarter touchdown runs to surge ahead.
Crounse finished the game with 168 yards on 29 carries, and completed 11 passes for 211 yards.
Gwynn Park held Douglas to just 36 yards on the ground on 14 carries, with a late third-quarter touchdown from two yards out. But Douglas played an active part in the passing game, catching four balls for 97 yards and the one touchdown.
Greg Leonard also caught a 23-yard touchdown pass for the Panthers that gave them a 14-12 halftime lead, and Joey Parsons caught four passes for 68 yards.
Patuxent will host Patterson of Baltimore, the 2A North Region champion, in the 2A state semifinals next week.