Paint Branch running back Justin Hockaday (1) is tackled by Springbrook defenders Joseph Bass (2), Tony Che (15) and Esli Alvarado-Montesino (53). PHOTO BY JACQUI SOUTH BURTONSVILLE – Valuable seconds were ticking off the game clock. If the visiting Springbrook Blue Devils varsity football team wanted to spoil the Paint Branch Panthers’ undefeated season, the time was now.
Then, Dejuan Johnson came out of nowhere. The senior defensive back intercepted Springbrook quarterback Trevon Ruffin as the buzzer signaled the end of the game and the Paint Branch bench flooded onto the field.
In a game marred by penalties and dropped passes, the Panthers clawed their way to a 28-25 victory and a 5-0 start to their season.
“I was telling all my teammates to just hold them and not give up any big plays. Then the ball came and I made a play with the help of my teammates,” said Johnson of his crucial interception. “For me and the whole team to come out there after being down for most of the game and then coming back, it was a hard-fought win and I think we deserved it.”