Springbrook rallies; Paint Branch loses third straight by James Peters Staff writer
After watching the Springbrook High School football team end 11 quarters of offensive futility with 5 1/2 minutes remaining in Friday’s contest, the Blue Devils faithful began chanting: “I believe we can win. I believe we can win.”
Trailing 12-7 with less than two minutes to play and facing a fourth down and 27 from its own 24-yard line, the mood on the Springbrook sideline and in the stands was understandably much less jubilant. The four-and-forever play was set up by an errant shotgun snap on third down and a much more manageable eight yards to go.
But during Springbrook’s final timeout of the half, the Blue Devils coaching staff designed what turned out to be the game-winning play — a 76-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Neiman Blain to Tyrek Stewart — that resulted in a 14-12 victory against host and rival Paint Branch at Montgomery Blair High School.
“Going into the fourth quarter, we hadn’t scored an offensive point in 11 quarters and our kids could have really easily tucked their tails and said, “Here we go again,’” said Springbrook coach Adam Bahr, whose team improved to 3-2, snapping a two-game losing streak. “I’m very proud of the kids and the coaching staff. It’s a big win for Springbrook.
“We kind of drew that up in the dirt and Neiman, who was getting battered around all night, made a great throw and Tyrek got behind, made a great catch and broke a tackle. We’ve dropped a lot of balls the last few weeks; it’s great to see one of kids make a play when we absolutely had to have it.”
On fourth down, Blain dropped back and delivered a strike to Stewart, who got behind a couple of Paint Branch defensive backs, shook an arm tackle and raced untouched the rest of the way for the score with 2:08 left in the game.
“It’s really mind-boggling to me,” said Panthers coach Mike Nesmith, whose squad dropped to 2-3 with its third straight loss, making bleak the team’s chances for a return trip to postseason play. “I’m the head coach and it falls on me. I’m the head coach and for whatever reason, we didn’t have the wherewithal or the moxie to stay back and keep everything in front of us. It’s extremely disappointing.”
Blain’s touchdown strike to Stewart was his second scoring pass of the game to help the Blue Devils overcome a 12-0 deficit that was fueled by two Stephen Fickett touchdown passes. Fickett found Javonn Curry from 45 yards in the first quarter and then Thomas Lucas from 19 yards out to end the third quarter.
Paint Branch left the door ajar, however, by missing an extra point on Curry’s score; it then failed on a two-point pass play following the Lucas touchdown. Blain followed with a 17-yard scoring strike to Sidney Mends with 5:33 left in the game to trim the lead to 12-7. The score followed an interception by Anton Morban.
“This is a good bounce back [after] dropping two straight games,” Blain said. “We came out against our biggest rival and got the `W.’”
Springbrook 14, Paint Branch 12
Springbrook (3-2) 0 0 0 14 — 14
Paint Branch (2-3) 6 0 6 0 — 12
PB — Javonn Curry 45 pass from Stephen Fickett (kick failed)
PB — Thomas Lucas 19 pass from Stephen Fickett (pass failed)
SP — Sidney Mends 17 pass from Neiman Blain (Abdoulie Jallow kick)
SP — Tyrek Stewart 76 pass from Neiman Blain (Abdoulie Jallow kick)
Springbrook — Terrence Caudle 20-72, Neiman Blain 6-13, Kevin Angel 2-20, Bizabiel Reyes 1-0.
Paint Branch — Johnny Littlejohn 12-35, Dante Wicker, Jr. 3-32, Erwin Assie 5-1, Manyo-Ojong Nkiri 1-5.
Springbrook — Neiman Blain 10-26-151-1
Paint Branch — Stephen Fickett 8-22-122-1
Springbrook — Sidney Mends 4-36, JaJuan Green 3-39, Terrence Caudle 2-0, Tyrek Stewart 1-76.
Paint Branch —Javonn Curry 2-63, Thomas Lucas 2-28, Chiedozie Obi 2-12, Justin Hackley 1-13, Manyo-Ojong Nkiri 1-7.