Upper Marlboro’s Henry A. Wise Pumas may get off to a slow start, but have explosive potential; just ask Springdale, Maryland’s Charles H. Flowers Jaguars, who were victims of 30 unanswered points as Wise rallied for a 30-12 win on Nov. 6.

With a top seed in the Prince George’s County 4A South playoffs on the line, Flowers jumped out to a 12-0 lead in the third quarter of their home showdown with Wise, and it appeared they would run away with the game. But Wise’s defense tightened, and their offense scored 30 unanswered points to capture the top seed in the division, by virtue of previously undefeated Suitland’s 34-14 meltdown to Eleanor Roosevelt that same day.

“I think the young men did a phenomenal job in believing in what we do and staying true to the ground game,” Wise coach DaLawn Parrish said. “Those kids kept fighting and kept banging and I couldn’t be more proud.”

Wise (9-1) intercepted Flowers quarterback Thomas Lawrence three times, all in the second half. But it wasn’t just the defense that picked it up in the final two quarters; junior running back Uriah Bethea ripped the Jaguars for 163 rushing yards and two touchdowns, the second of which gave the Pumas their first lead at 16-12 with 7:38 left in the fourth quarter. Bethea repeatedly gashed the Jaguars (8-2) for big gains as he helped the Pumas total 265 rushing yards.

“It was just all about my (offensive) line making the perfect blocks,” Bethea said. “After they made their blocks I kept bursting through the line.”

After Bethea’s second touchdown, Wise’s Omar Ellis-White intercepted Lawrence. Quarterback DeAndre’ Smith found Chaudlier Shepard across the middle for a 19-yard touchdown strike to make it 24-12. Lawrence was intercepted again on the following drive by Claudius Solomon, which led to a one-yard run by Jamaal Jones to ice the game.

Despite the second-half breakdown, Lawrence and the rest of the Flowers squad will rematch with Wise on Nov. 13 as a confident group hoping to eliminate their errors. Roosevelt and Suitland will also rematch the same day at Suitland.

“We made a bunch of mistakes,” Lawrence said. “We should’ve been up 21-0 really and the game should’ve been over at that but we couldn’t cap it in and they just up ended us really. We’re going to come back with some pride. We knew we were going to play them in the first round so win or lose this game, we know how last year felt when they beat us in the regional finals so we’re going to bring it in the playoffs.”

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO