The Bladensburg High School and Northwestern football teams didn’t pay attention to their team records going into Saturday’s contest. The two squads, both eliminated from the postseason, played their hearts out in a game with a playoff-like atmosphere with Northwestern rising up in overtime to win 27-26.
“It doesn’t matter what [our] record is,” Northwestern running back Jason Deloatch said. “We’re still hard workers, we still believe that we’re always in the game no matter what the score is. We’re not going to turn on each other, we’re still going to [give] 100 percent [of our effort] until the whistle blows.”
The Wildcats raced out to a 14-0 lead in the first half. Junior running back Janard Taylor danced his way into the end zone from six yards out on Northwestern’s first scoring drive, which featured all running plays.
Three drives later, Northwestern received a punt on the Bladensburg 47-yard line with under a minute to play before halftime.
In an attempt to run out the clock prior to the half, sophomore quarterback Laurenz Campbell handed the ball off to Deloatch, who took the handoff 41 yards, setting up a 6-yard touchdown pass from Campbell to Rondell Fletcher as time expired on the next play.
Deloatch, a senior tailback, ran his way to 168 yards and a touchdown. His scoring run from a yard out in overtime won the game for the Wildcats.
“It feels like they’ve got great trust in me,” Deloatch said of his teammates and coaches. “I trust them too.”
Bladensburg needed a spark coming out of halftime, so coach Jason Koenig looked to his go-to guy right out of the gate. He called for a double reverse on the kick return to open the second half to get the ball to J’Waun Gallman. The playmaker received a pitch from his teammate and took the football 74 yards for a touchdown.
“We know he is a dangerous [returner],” Mustangs running back Elijah Kee said of Gallman. “Nobody wanted to kick it to him so we had to find creative ways to get him the ball.”
Two and a half minutes later, Bladensburg quarterback Kavon Wade handed off to Kee, who raced down the right sideline for a 57-yard score to cut the Wildcats’ lead to 14-12. Northwestern replacement quarterback Leon Victor fumbled a snap on the ensuing drive, giving Bladensburg the ball right back.
Five plays following the fumble, Wade rolled out of the pocket and scrambled for a 7-yard touchdown run, giving the Mustangs a 20-14 lead and their third score in 3 minutes, 50 seconds.
“Coach just told us, ‘Keep pushing, it’s not over, we have to fight,’” Kee said of Koenig’s halftime speech to rally his players.
Kee led the Mustangs with 62 yards on six carries. He also rushed for two scores — a 57-yard run in the third quarter and a 1-yard run in overtime to give Bladensburg a 26-20 lead.
Northwestern overcame two second-half fumbles and 12 team penalties throughout the game.
“Don’t look back,” Deloatch said of the miscues. “Just ride on the momentum right now.”
Northwestern 27, Bladensburg 26
Northwestern (3-6) 7 7 0 6 7—27
Bladensburg (2-7) 0 0 20 0 6—26
N—Janard Taylor 6 run (kick good)
N—Rondell Fletcher 6 pass from Laurenz Campbell (kick good)
B—J’Waun Gallman 74 kick return (run failed)
B—Elijah Kee 57 run (run failed)
B—Kavon Wade 7 run (Elijah Kee 2-point run)
N—Leon Victor 1 run (kick no good)
B—Elijah Kee 1 run (run failed)
N—Jason Deloatch 1 run (kick good)
Northwestern—Jason Deloatch 17-168, Janard Taylor 8-37, Darryl Brown 9-24, Justin Mack 3-15, Leon Victor 6-13, Damon Rodwell 1-13, Antoine Proctor 2-2, Laurenz Campbell 1-0
Bladensburg—Elijah Kee 6-62, Kavon Wade 7-44, J’Waun Gallman 6-22, Gershom Smith 1-10, C.J. Payton 1-6, Andre Wallace 1-2, Malik Harris 2-0
Northwestern—Leon Victor 1-3-8-0, Laurenz Campbell 1-3-6-0
Bladensburg—Kavon Wade 3-9-59-1
Northwestern—Darryl Brown 1-8, Rondell Fletcher 1-6
Bladensburg—Tyreek Cook 2-49, Elijah Kee 1-10