Douglass sets tone early in victory -- Gazette.Net Photos from Saturday's game

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Paul Harris received the opening kick in the Class 2A South Region championship game on his own 15, patiently bided his time for a wedge to form and then found what he was looking for. He floated a tad to the right before making a sharp cutback and burst through a hole that easily fit his 6-foot-4 frame.

Only one Gwynn Park High School player had even a sliver of a chance at laying a hand on the Frederick Douglass senior, but even that was farfetched. Harris easily ran past him and into the end zone.

In what was an extreme example of a flipped script from earlier in the season, Douglass completely outmuscled and outworked Gwynn Park on Saturday en route to a 28-6 victory.

The Eagles advanced to the state semifinal round and will play at Edmondson next week. Should they prevail, a likely rematch with defending 2A state champion Middletown awaits.

Aside from a late touchdown by Marc Bronson, his 12th of the year, Gwynn Park's offense was limited to very little success — quite the opposite from its easy 39-16 victory over the Eagles in September.

“Honestly, it was just a rude awakening the first time,” Douglass linebacker Matthew Paul said. “It was a rude awakening for us. Nobody came out to play like the Douglass we are and we got upset.”

Coach J.C. Pinkney and the Eagles credited mental preparation as the reason for Saturday's success.

Returning the opening kickoff to take the lead didn't exactly hurt their pregame confidence.

“This game here, Gwynn Park came in so cocky with it,” Harris said. “I was getting texts after [last] game telling me, 'Watch the highlight tape.' You know, it was a lot. We knew they were going to look over us.”

Losing, especially to a team they had beaten pretty soundly earlier in the year, was a situation that the Yellow Jackets were not quite accustomed to. Of their 10 wins entering the game, just two had come by less than 20 points. Their only loss of the season came more than two months ago in an 8-6 struggle with Friendly and they had shut out six teams since then.

“The difference was, our guys man, mentally, we were ready to play,” Pinkney said. “Our guys, I told them the first time we played them, that was the first time I felt our guys weren't mentally ready. … We didn't play with that type of desperation the first time and they got at us pretty good.”

Douglass did everything it could to keep that mental edge on Saturday. It forced a pair of punts on Gwynn Park's opening two possessions and Paul, who ran for a touchdown earlier in the game, delivered a big hit in the second quarter on Joseph Hayman.

Hayman took a carry up the left side from the Douglass 4 and, for a brief second, there was a running lane forming. Paul also happened to see that hole and he hit Hayman so hard that not only did the ball come loose, but so did one of Paul's teeth.

“Smile,” Harris said with a laugh. And Paul did, revealing a gap where his right front tooth should have been

Douglass freshman quarterback Devin Butler managed the rest of the game well, finishing with two rushing touchdowns. The second one gave the Eagles a 28-0 lead in the third quarter.

“It's beautiful,” Paul said of the possibility of playing Middletown in two weeks. “Everything is rounding up perfectly. We just want to win next week.”

tmewhirter@gazette.net

Frederick Douglass 28, Gwynn Park 6

Douglass (11-1) 14 8 6 0—28

Gwynn Park (10-2) 0 0 0 6—6

FD—Paul Harris 85 kick return (Devonte Williams run failed)

FD—Matthew Paul 1 run (Matthew Paul 2-point pass from Devin Butler)

FD—Devin Butler 2 run (Devonte Williams run)

FD—Devin Butler 8 run (Devin Butler run failed)

GP—Marc Bronson 1 run (Jay Adams pass failed)

RUSHING

Douglass—Devonte Williams 8-142; Devin Butler 13-32; Kenneth Freeman 7-25; Avery Wood 4-11; Rodney Boyd 1-6; Matthew Paul 1-1.

Gwynn Park—Jay Adams 12-37; Joseph Hayman 12-22; Marc Bronson 4-19; Trevon Heard 1-4; Eddie Gross 1-1; Atein Butts 1-(-)12.

PASSING

Douglass—Devin Butler 8-14-59-1.

Gwynn Park—Jay Adams 10-28-92-1.

RECEIVING

Douglass—Paul Harris 4-58; Devonte Williams 2-12; Kenneth Freeman 2- (-)3.

Gwynn Park—Joseph Hayman 4-28; Xavier Ducksworth 2-26; Marc Bronson 2-25; Trevon Heard 1-15; Kimothy Bynum 1-12.