The Damascus High School football team slogged through muddy conditions to post a 21-6 victory over Walt Whitman on Monday.
The Swarmin' Hornets amassed 203 yards on the ground, led by Jalen Christian (81 yards) and Jake Funk (79).
“We knew that the conditions out on the field were bad,” Christian said. “So we knew we couldn't really throw or make cuts, so we had to run the ball. The line came up big today. We had some key runs and sealed the win.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Christian opened the second quarter with a bang, taking the handoff on a counter and scampering 54 yards for a touchdown. Derek Gibson added the two-point conversion on the ground, and Damascus maintained that 8-0 lead until halftime.
The Swarmin' Hornets (5-1) piled on in the third quarter, scoring on two of their first three possessions after the break. Quarterback Chase Williams contributed a 34-yard scoring run when he rolled out to his left and saw a wide-open path up the sideline to the end zone. A few minutes later, Funk capitalized on a short field by covering 37 yards on three carries, including punching the ball in from the 1-yard line, to put Damascus up 21-0 with just under five minutes left in the third quarter.
Funk was also quick to give a nod to the offensive-line play in front of him for providing the holes to run through.
“I've got to give a shout out to my offensive line,” he said. “They played a great game, and I wouldn't get any of the yards that I got without them. We were just running hard, really. You couldn't really make any cuts because it was slippery, so it was just running hard and running north-south.”
Zac Morton paced the Vikings offense with 97 yards on the ground. The senior running back also provided a late touchdown with a remarkable display of balance and awareness, managing to stay on his feet after nearly being tackled, then finishing the run to prevent the shutout.
“Honestly, I just needed to score,” Morton said. “This is my last time playing Damascus and I needed to get into the end zone, whatever it took.”
Despite falling to 3-3 on the season, Whitman is still a contender for a playoff spot in the 4A West Region. The Vikings have four games remaining, all against opponents who are at .500 or worse.
“We are going 4-0 — that's what we have to do to get in the playoffs,” Morton said. “I think, with our schedule and our team coming together, I think we can do that. I think we can make a good push.”
Meanwhile, the Hornets are currently slotted in as the No. 3 seed in the 3A West Region, trailing undefeated Linganore and Urbana. They face a tough test on short rest, as Rockville and its prolific passing attack come to town looking to make up ground in the region standings. Due to the postponement of this game, that contest has been rescheduled from Thursday to Friday at 6:30 p.m.
“We have practice tomorrow,” Christian said, “So we will sit down, watch some film, and prepare the best we can to get this 'W.'”
The field should have dried out by then.
Damascus 21, Walt Whitman 6
Walt Whitman (3-3) 0 0 0 6 — 0
Damascus (5-1) 0 8 13 0 — 21
D — Jalen Christian 54 run (Derek Gibson 2-point run)
D — Chase Williams 34 run (Joseph Curry kick)
D — Jake Funk 1 run (kick missed)
W — Zac Morton 40 run (kick missed)
Damascus — Jalen Christian 7-81; Jake Funk 12-79; Brandon Hall 8-27; Chase Williams 10-9; Tait Buttrey 4-6; Derek Gibson 1-2; Deegar Fuller 1-(-1).
Walt Whitman — Zac Morton 15-97; Jacob Pittsenberger 7-9; Evan Smith 4-(-28).
Damascus — Chase Williams 9-19-84-0; Joey Salisbury 0-1-0-0.
Walt Whitman — Evan Smith 8-21-69-1; Zac Morton 1-1-10-0.
Damascus — Stefon Jacob 3-33; Alec Magas 4-28; Jalen Christian 2-28.
Walt Whitman — Nolan Hanessian 4-37; Zac Morton 2-18 Nick Panlibuton 2-14; Anton Casey 1-10.