Surrattsville High School defensive lineman Daevon Johnson, with his team's game Saturday postponed due to rain, joined his coach and several teammates to watch Howard University play Bethune-Cookman University.
Johnson was particularly struck by a Howard player picking up a fumble and advancing the ball, and that play stuck with Johnson during Monday's rescheduled game.
Isiah Butler earned a sack and forced fumble, and Johnson snatched up the ball and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown to help No. 8 Surrattsville to a 22-20 win over No. 9 Forestville in Monday's matchup of undefeated teams.
“I just had that mindset to dive on it,” Johnson said. “But this is 5-0 teams. I wanted to scoop and score. Couldn't pass up that.”
Surrattsville (6-0) snapped a five-game losing streak to Forestville and maintained its place atop the 1A North Region, already guaranteeing itself as many wins as any season since 2007.
Forestville (5-1) remains second in the region, perhaps setting up a rematch the 1A North title game, what would be the first-ever postseason meeting between the rival teams.
Surrattsville coach Robert Harris told his players to expect a second matchup, and Forestville coach Charles Harley said there'd be a rematch “without a doubt.”
“It stinks,” Harley said. “We lost, but we've just got to do better next time. I ain't upset.
“We'll be back. That simple.”
Johnson said he'd welcome a rematch.
“I like them tough,” Johnson said. “When you're digging in the trenches with your team, that's where a man is made.”
He knows something about having it tough. Johnson said he led Prince George's County 3A/2A/1A League linemen in tackles last season and came close to the sacks lead, but he still has no scholarship offers (video of his return is certainly headed to Howard's coaches). Frustrated, Johnson met with Harris before the season.
“I told him I wanted an offer,” Johnson said. “He said give it all, and I just balled out.”
Johnson's score Monday put Surrattsville up 14-6, and after running for negative five yards on his first six carries, Amaru Major dashed for a 53-yard touchdown on the second half's first play to give Surrattsville a 22-6 lead.
But Forestville fought back behind the hard running of Smith Merzeir (149 yards) and Earon Settles (101 yards), and Settles threw two touchdown passes to Omar Geronimo to cut the lead to 22-20 midway through the fourth quarter.
“It's sort of like two heavyweight champs that are the top-two contenders, top-best fighters in the world. And that's what this was,” Harris said. “You've got expect to get hit. Floyd Mayweather says, and I always remind the kids, he says, 'I love boxing, because I like to get hit. I don't think I'm not going to get hit, but when I get hit, that makes me want to hit somebody harder.'”
Forestville drove again into Surrattsville territory before its final possession stalled, leaving conversions as the difference. Surrattsville kicker Salimineo Sherman made both his extra points, and quarterback Robert Harris III threw a two-point conversion lining up as holder.
Major, who finished with 143 rushing yards and broke up multiple key passes, joined basically everyone else on the field in expecting a rematch between the closely matched teams.
“It's personal now,” Major said. “We've got to make a statement for Surrattsville, so my boys are going to work hard. We're going to take the 'W' again.”
No. 8 Surrattsville 22, No. 9 Forestville 20
Forestville (5-1) 6 0 8 6 — 20
Surrattsville (6-0) 0 14 8 0 — 22
F — Marcel Joly 3 run (run failed)
S — Edward Joppy 23 pass from Robert Harris III (Salimineo Sherman kick)
S — Daevon Johnson 29 fumble return (Salimineo Sherman kick)
S — Amaru Major 53 run (Alonzo Anderson pass from Robert Harris III)
F — Omar Geronimo pass from Earon Settles (Larry Powell run)
F — Omar Geronimo pass from Earon Settles (run failed)
Forestville — Smith Merzeir 18-149, Earon Settles 18-101, Marcel Joly 8-44, James Green 1-16, Larry Powell 1-1, Tyree Williams 2-(-3).
Surrattsville — Amaru Major 19-143, Robert Harris III 3-24, Alonzo Anderson 5-4, Daquan West 2-3, Marcus Leggett 1-0.
Forestville — Earon Settles 3-17-44-2.
Surrattsville — Robert Harris III 4-10-65-0.
Forestville — Omar Geronimo 2-44, James Green 1-0.
Surrattsville — Ryan Wilcox 1-38, Edward Joppy 1-23, Amaru Major 1-4.