Facing the Mays Raiders at full strength is tough enough. Trying to do it without two of your best players is a recipe for disaster.
That was the regretful situation for Douglas County (6-1, 4-1) Friday night in a battle for the top spot in Region 5-AAAAAA. Mays’ defense was dominant from start to finish, and the offense stopped shooting itself in the foot long enough to produce a 35-3 win for the Raiders (6-1, 4-0), ranked No. 3 in the classification.
The Tigers were without senior running back/linebacker Uriah West and senior linebacker Xavier Hopson, both of whom sat out due to injury. But defeating Mays even with a healthy West in the backfield would still have been a chore as the Raiders’ front seven was un-blockable all night and played the majority of the game in the Tiger backfield.
Led by senior defensive linemen Jazz Hawkins, Desmond Traylor and Jalen McGhee, and sophomore Timothy Thomas Jr., the Mays defense held Douglas County to just six first downs in the contest.
Mays’ special teams unit struck first after forcing the Tigers to go three-and-out on their second series. Douglas County tried to kick the ball away from Mays returner Jamarcus McCoy. But the senior sprinted from the near hash marks to the opposite side of the field to grab the kick on a bounce, picked up a block and darted down the middle of the field for a 75-yard punt return touchdown to give the Raiders a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
Douglas County couldn’t get anything going consistently on offense on its next two possessions. In fact, the Tigers picked up their initial first down with about seven minutes remaining in the second quarter. But Mays continued to shoot itself in the foot, committing two holding penalties on its next drive after the punt return before kicking the ball back to Douglas County.
The Tigers caught a break on Mays’ next possession when the Raiders fumbled the quarterback-running back exchange at the mesh point, and Douglas County recovered on the Mays 21 yard line. But the Tigers ended up losing a yard in three plays and settled for a 39-yard field goal by Diego Huerta to cut the lead to 7-3.
A short kickoff gave Mays good field position on its 35-yard line on its ensuing possession. Early in the possession it appeared as if, once again, the Raiders would end up stopping themselves. McCoy took a short slant pass from junior Jahquez Evans, bounced off a tackler and raced down the far sideline for a 55-yard gain to the Tigers’ 10-yard line. But the ball was returned all the way back to midfield after Mays was penalized for blocking in the back.
But five plays later on third-and-20, Evans found Amir Abdul-Rahman deep down the near seam. The senior had gotten behind the Tiger secondary, and Evans lofted a pin-point rainbow to Abdul-Rahman for the touchdown with a little over a minute left in the quarter. Senior Chloe Robinson’s second consecutive point after kick pushed the Raider lead to 14-3 at halftime.
Mays turned the ball over on downs on its first possession of the second half, just inside of Tiger territory. Douglas County took over and on third-and-nine from its 42-yard line, Antonio Grier Jr., the reigning defensive player of the year in the region, stepped in front of a slant route and returned the interception 15 yards to the Tigers’ 35-yard line.
On the Raiders’ first play from scrimmage, Evans and Abdul-Rahman hooked up again. This time Evans’ pass on a go-route down the near sideline was short, but Abdul-Rahman came back for the ball and outjumped the Tiger defensive back at the goal line for a 35-yard touchdown. A two-point conversion pass pushed the Raider lead to 22-3 midway through the third period.
J.J. Richard relieved Marqueese Collins at quarterback for the Tigers on their next possession, and led a drive inside the Raider 20-yard line. But the Mays defense held and gave the ball back to the offense at the Raider 16-yard line.
Mays put the game away on its ensuing drive when Abdul-Rahman and Evans hooked up for the third time in the game, this time on a 44-yard touchdown pass play to make the score 28-3 after an unsuccessful two-point conversion try. Abdul-Rahman caught a slant, broke a tackle and outran the Tiger secondary to the end zone midway through the fourth quarter.
Evans capped the scoring with a 28-yard run on the Raiders’ next possession.
M – Jamarcus McCoy 75 punt return (Chloe Robinson kick)
DC – Diego Huerta 39 fg
M – Amir Abdul-Rahman 39 pass from Jahquez Evans (Robinson kick)
M – Abdul-Rahman 35 pass from Evans (run good)
M – Abdul-Rahman 44 pass from Evans (run failed)
M – Evans 28 run (Robinson kick)
Douglas County 0 3 0 0 3
Mays 7 7 8 13 35