ANNAPOLIS — 20 straight playoff appearances. 42 straight victories. Three straight state championships.
The Damascus Swarmin’ Hornets keep making history and Saturday’s 2A State Championship game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium was no different. The Hornets became the first team in Damascus school history to win three state titles in a row, its tenth overall, when they defeated the Gwynn Park Yellow Jackets 31-7.
The Hornets now own the Montgomery County record for most victories in a row, a record previously held by Seneca Valley.
Damascus utilized its multiple scoring threats to its advantage and bounced back after the Yellow Jackets tied the game early in the first quarter.
Hornets junior running back T.D. Ayo-Durojaiye led the charge with 112 yards on the ground and one touchdown. Senior running back Gage Dickens finished his final game in the green-and-gold with 51 yards and two scores, including the go-home touchdown that sealed the deal for Damascus.
Even though the Yellow Jackets showed promise early on, the Damascus defense picked apart Gwynn Park and intercepted quarterback Kamari Brown four times.
Gwynn Park senior running back Ryan Clemons earned his team’s only touchdown when he burst loose down the left sideline for an 80-yard score as Damascus defenders nipped at his heels.
“I wasn’t worried…but we had something going and we could have gone three-and-out,” said Damascus head coach Eric Wallich. “[Gwynn Park is] good and they’re going to make plays too, so I knew it was going to be a battle the whole game.”
Wallich’s words rang true as both teams scratched and clawed for yardage. The Hornets nursed a 10-point advantage heading into the half after a one-yard quarterback sneak by senior John Allan Furgeson.
The game was still within reach for the Yellow Jackets as both teams returned to the field to start the third quarter.
However, the tide suddenly and permanently turned in the Hornets’ favor when senior defensive back Michael Rice intercepted Brown at the Gwynn Park 12-yard line.
Dickens muscled his way into the end zone a few seconds later for the first of his two touchdowns and the Hornets never looked back.
“I think [Gwynn Park] got a little bit tired and I think we had a little bit more depth that we could throw at them and it paid off towards the end,” said Wallich.
Gwynn Park coach Danny Hayes said that there are lessons to be learned from a loss on such a big stage.
“Moving forward, it’s all about teaching my kids character,” said Hayes. “I know what you’re going to do when you win. A man’s real character is what you’re going to do when you go down. If you get knocked on your back, as long as you can look up you can get up. We’re going to get up from this and we’re going to keep moving.”
There were still a couple of minutes on the game clock when the celebrations started on the Damascus sideline. Wallich received a Gatorade shower. Players jumped up and down and embraced.
After the game, the team posed for pictures with the 2A championship trophy and held three fingers up to represent their history-making “three-peat.”
Many of the seniors, including Furgeson and defensive lineman Jordan Funk, close out their high school careers with an unprecedented accomplishment: they’ve never lost a varsity game.
“I grew up with every one of the guys in my class since I was seven years old and football is really what bonded us and made us become friends,” said Funk. “Just to come up into the high school level with boys you grew up with and to win three state championships when you rarely see that happen, it’s big. I’ll never forget these guys.”