Click here to view more photos of Suitland’s victory over the Flowers Jaguars.

It was a play that Suitland quarterback Nyema Washington said the team runs in practice all the time: a simple roll out to the right and a throw back to the left. But Washington didn’t expect it to work against a tough opponent in double overtime Oct. 9.

With Washington’s unbeaten Suitland team tied 7-7 with the Charles Herbert Flowers Jaguars in double overtime, the junior signal caller put away his worries and put his faith in his coaches. And though receiver Robert Burke nearly put the pass on the ground as he bobbled the catch, he regained control and put Suitland in the end zone and into first place in the Prince George’s 4A Division with a 14-7 win.

In a game that Suitland (6-0) seemingly tried to give away, Flowers (5-1) always gave it right back. Both teams were heavily penalized throughout the contest, and each school took turns committing costly fumbles and drive-killing mistakes.

The game was still scoreless late in the third period before the Suitland coaching staff got creative. After spending most of the game butting their heads against a stout Flowers defense, Suitland called its first screen pass of the afternoon and caught Flowers totally off guard. Washington found running back Lorenzo Steele on a short toss and the senior did the rest, bowling over defenders for a 22-yard score and a 7-0 lead.

Trailing at the start of the fourth quarter, Flowers used a plethora of Suitland penalties to march down field on the following drive. Thomas Lawrence’s quarterback sneak tied the game with 5:48 remaining before Suitland fumbled at Flower’s 19-yard line to end regulation.

After a sloppy four quarters, the contest became even more careless in overtime. Flowers fumbled the ball away on their first possession before an illegal motion call, combined with a holding call wiped away an ensuing Suitland touchdown. The game entered a second overtime.

But it was only a matter of time before Washington found Burke for the score that came on a third and 20 situation. After Lawrence’s fourth-down pass was batted down on the following possession, Suitland’s sideline erupted in cheers to celebrate an unbeaten start.

“It feels real good,” Washington said. “We knew coming in we were going to be expected to win. I don’t think we were as focused at first but then we realized we were in a dogfight. Going into overtime there was no doubt, we came in ready to dominate.”

It wasn’t necessarily a dominant performance, but Suitland head coach Ed Shields was just thankful to escape with a win. “It was a tough victory,” Shields said. “We were just fortunate to come out on top after all the mistakes we made.”


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO