POTOMAC – Oxon Hill and Riverdale Baptist came out ready for battle, as the Clippers looked for their first win of the season while the Crusaders saught to stay undefeated.
In the end Oxon Hill came away with the big 19-12 win.
“I felt great about the defense,” said Oxon Hill Head Coach Craig Jefferies. “If we can slow people down, we think we can score some points. We didn’t get on track offensively like we usually do, but it was a big improvement from last week on defense. Our guys are getting better every week, and we just got to keep doing what we were doing and finish strong.”
Halfway through the first quarter, both teams were still feeling each other out as they remained scoreless. However, that changed when Oxon Hill senior quarterback Dajuan Rollins threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Deonte Hill for the first score of the game.
The long strike gave the Clippers the momentum in front of their home crowd.
Riverdale Baptist had an immediate answer to start the second quarter with a quarterback sneak by junior Justus McDougal, tying the game up at seven. On the next possession, the Crusaders’ defense stopped the Clippers’ offense and forced them to punt.
During the punt attempt, pressure forced the center to snap the ball over punter Jonathan Diaz’s head into the endzone, resulting in a safety for the Crusaders. The play gave the Crusaders a 9-7 lead and two scores in just over one minute. After holding Riverdale scoreless in the first quarter, Oxon Hill was now the team struggling offensively.
Later, the Crusaders put three more points on the board with a field goal with 3:51 left in the first half, giving them a 12-7 lead. In the closing seconds, the Crusaders tried to extend the lead with a deep pass, but Clippers senior safety Daniel George had other thoughts, pulling down an interception with 30 seconds left in the first half.
“In the first half, we were both trying to feel each other out,” Riverdale Baptist Coach Caesar Nettles said. “Oxon Hill did a good job of taking advantage of big plays and 80-95 percent of the time we did a good job of filling up defensively. Offensively we moved the ball pretty well.”
As the third quarter began, the Clippers needed a score to get back in the game. Dropping back in the pocket with nowhere to go, Rollins threw a fade to the back of the endzone for Banks again, and he delivered with a toe tapping touchdown reception.
“I knew the ball was coming to me,” Banks said. “He threw it up, and I had to go get it. I had to make a play because we were down. I just swiped him out the way and made the play.”
The amazing catch got the Clippers’ crowd back into the game and gave them a 13-12 lead with 1:03 left in the third quarter after a failed two-point conversion attempt.
With 7:16 left in the game, Oxon Hill strong safety Paul Reid, III came up with a huge interception. With the Clippers in control, running back Jy’ir Ingram went down on the field in pain with cramps. Two plays later, after some stretching and water, he came back and ran for a 44-yard touchdown to give the Clippers a 19-12 lead with just over three minutes to go.
Riverdale Baptist drove down the field looking to tie the game up, but George showed why he is one of the best athletes in the state of Maryland. He hauled in his second interception with 33 seconds left to seal the deal for the Clippers.
“The whole drive I was just thinking, ‘I got to make a play, I got to make a play,” George said about his game-sealing interception. “Then I saw the opportunity present itself, so I had to go get it and make that play.”
George had offers from Wisconsin, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Vanderbilt, Maryland, Kentucky, Iowa and Duke before finally committing to Penn State in July. George finished the game with two interceptions on defense and five catches for 47 yards on offense.
“Playing both sides of the ball is not easy,” George said. “There is a different mindset you have to bring to each side. On offense, I have to be a sharp, precision-type player with my routes. When I switch on defense, I got to turn that dog on with me playing safety.”
George was not the only playmaker on the field. Rollins had a solid game, completing 11-of-16 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns. Banks was the recipient of both of those touchdowns and finished the game with four catches for 108 yards.
“We can always get better,” Banks said. “We should have put more points up on the board though. We think we can put up 45 with the way our offense can go every game. We are going to get better every week.”
After getting the first win of the season over a great team, Jefferies thinks there is still some more work to do.
“We got to get back to being disciplined, playing Oxon Hill football,” Jefferies said. “One of my concerns this year is our defense. We lost most of our guys on defense.”
For Riverdale Baptist, it was the team’s first loss of the season after having two dominant performances against Bishop McNamara and Ballou (Washington, D.C.).
“I think they made their opportunities count and we didn’t,” Nettles said. “Coach Jefferies did a great job of having his team ready. We made a lot of mistakes, had a couple of turnovers, and had a couple missed gap assignments on defense. The better team won today.”