May 20, 2018

Paint Branch earns an emotional victory over Blair, 20-14

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BURTONSVILLE — On 4th-and-short with 44 seconds left remaining in the fourth frame, Paint Branch head coach Mike Nesmith decided he was going to put the pressure on his defense to get the job done one more time. I’m bringing the house, he yelled to the young men in front of him.

Little did he know that his special teams would be the ones to end the game. Samuel Ntui took the snap and launched a booming punt to Nashton Datis, who then muffed it as the Panthers surrounded him. Madness and glee ensued as the Panthers recovered the punt and kneeled once on offense to ice the game and a 20-14 victory on Friday night at home. 

“It’s very easy for a young 16-17 year-old to feel that pressure and think, ‘Oh no, I messed up last time,'”  Nesmith said. “Jordy Griffin gave him a great snap and the senior did a great job of getting it off .”

It was an emotional win due to the recent death of Walter Hardy, who filled many roles while working the Montgomery County Public School system from teacher and coach to athletic administrator. The student section was decked out in Hawaiian shirts and had many contests to honor his memory throughout the Friday night game.

“It really was a seismic loss here for this community,” Nesmith said  “He was so beloved by so many people that it’s just one of those situations where you don’t really recover from.”

It wasn’t the most auspicious start for Paint Branch, which allowed Blair’s Rudy Ngougni to catch-and-run 68 yards for a touchdown on the first play of scrimmage.

The first drive for Paint Branch ended when Datis intercepted a tipped-pass from Douglass Jr.

Paint Branch then dug in and Ishmael Agbodzah read a Matt Siff screen pass perfectly and took the pick for six, making it 7-6 in the early going of the first quarter. Blair would score once more when Datis took a Siff pass 36 yards to increase the Blazers lead, 14-6. The Panthers wouldn’t score again until the second quarter when Douglass fired a five-yard touchdown pass to Justin Hockaday, cutting the lead to 14-12 despite the second failed two-point conversion.

After halftime, the Panthers would capitalize when running back Justin Page ran it from four yards out and converted a two-point conversion to give Paint Branch the 20-14 lead.

“You know, last year they came and beat us on at home,” Douglass Jr. said. “We wasn’t going to allow it to happen.”

The Panthers defense forced four takeaways (two interceptions and two forced fumbles) and the offense clicked on all cylinders, as Douglass Jr had 88 total yards (62 passing yard, 26 on the ground) while Samuel Doku ran for a season-high 127 yards. In the second half, the sophomore running back refused to go down on several occasions and flashed incredible speed, showcasing the potential to be a star for this Panthers offense.

“We think (Noku) is really going to be pretty special player,” Nesmith said. “We put the load on Noku because we knew he was capable, he’s really a feature back. He has that ability and he showed it tonight.”

About Brooks Warren 41 Articles
Brooks Warren is a Class of 2014 graduate of Albert Einstein High School. He's always been an avid writer and started doing his own sports blog, The Hop. As he works with Maryland Sports Access, he hopes to evolve his brand and create relationships that will help him go far in this great business. As a sports fan and former athlete, he has experience in wrestling, track and field, and basketball. Although track and field was his first love he has mostly covered basketball. He looks forward to dipping his toe in high school football and basketball, as well as collegiate basketball. He hopes to get into coaching and mentoring youth one day, and enjoys spending time with friends, playing football and basketball. He also volunteers his time at Montgomery Hills Baptist Church, helping out with summer programs. Warren currently attends Montgomery College and intends on transferring to Towson University in the fall of 2017, and has career aspirations of being an ESPN columnist and even being on TV.

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