Coming into Saturday’s game against the Largo Lions, the Douglass Eagles had been mathematically eliminated from getting the final spot, but it didn’t stop the Eagles from playing spoiler, as its 14-6 victory over the Lions kept them from making the playoffs.
“We’ve been on this for a 12 year streak now for going into the post season, and things come to an end, it’s going to make us hungry and our program is going to be better because of it,” said Douglass head coach Julius Pinkney
While the Eagles came into Saturday’s game with a chance of playing spoiler, there was also team and school pride on the line as the seniors on the team were looking to go undefeated on their home field for the fourth consecutive year, a school first.
Right out the gate Douglass looked like a team that was on a mission. After its defense was able to force a three and out, the offense used a six play 56 yard drive that ended with a Maceo Barbosa 11 yard touchdown run, led 8-0 early.
Both teams struggled to get much offense going after that, as the game went into halftime with Douglass still leading 8-0.
Douglass first mistake came on its opening drive of the third quarter as quarterback Devin Butler wasn’t able to get the handoff cleanly to his running back and fumbled. Largo wasn’t able to capitalize however, getting all the way down to Douglass four yard line, before a penalty took pushed them back to the 20 and the offense wasn’t able to convert on 4th& goal from the 15 yard line.
As the fourth quarter began, Douglass defense continued its dominant performance. On its first defensive drive Douglass corner Anthony Harris intercepted a pass by Anthony Nelson Jr.
Douglass capitalized on the short field with quarterback keeping it himself and running the ball in from four yards out and pushing the lead to 14-0 following a missed two point conversion.
“I had seen something in the defense that I knew they were doing, I knew they were pinching every time we ran a T or a veer,” said Butler “ I told them I was going keep it, and follow up through Tom and it was just a natural instinct from the four years I’ve been here.”
Largo would respond however, putting together its most balanced offensive drive of the day, quarterback Nelson Jr. and running back Jabari Reddock had a part in each play of the drive, including a connection between the two for a 23 yard screen pass for a score. The score brought the Lions within 14-6 with seven minutes to play in the game.
But the Douglass defense made too many plays. On Largo’s next offensive possession, Douglass cornerback Kollin Smith came up with the defenses second interception of the quarter.
“I felt very good, because it was a [interception] game changer,” said Smith. “I dropped a pick at the beginning of the game, I walked to the sideline and told coach, I’m get you one and that’s what I did, went out there and went to get it.”
Largo had one last opportunity to at least tie the game, however an incomplete pass on fourth down ended the teams hopes of winning or a chance at the playoffs.
“I challenged our guys; we didn’t sugarcoat anything with our guys. If things didn’t fall our way last night, more than likely this would be our last game Saturday,” said Pinkney, “I demanded it of them, I told my senior class your last is what I’m going to remember the most. Your effort and how you performed in your last football game here, and we can play for a county championship or a streak of never losing on this field, something no senior class we’ve ever had has done that.”
While the Eagles won’t be participating in the playoffs, the team was able to send its seniors off on a high note as the team finished with a perfect record on its home field the past four years, and overall record of 41-8, including last year’s 2A State Championship.