Panthers March into Region Finals

Big Second Half Puts PB One Win Away from Final Four in 4A


Chris Hatcher, Contributing Writer


The blistering cold provided a warm welcome to the Maryland 4A State Playoff, as temperatures across the county dropped as low as 19° for game time. In week 10, Paint Branch clinched the #1 seed in the 4A North Region with a crucial win over Clarksburg to earn their first home playoff game since 2013. The Panthers prepared to host the 8-2 Gators from Perry Hall in Baltimore, MD with a strong week of practice in the cold and rain.

Paint Branch won the coin toss and elected to receive the kickoff with intentions to jump on the Gators early and put pressure on the visitors. The Panthers marched downfield into Perry Hall territory, but turned the ball over on fourth down. The momentum quickly turned around when PB junior Ishmael Agbodzah intercepted a Gator pass and picked up a good amount of yards on the return to put the Panthers back on Perry Hall’s side of the field. Paint Branch’s run game was unstoppable on this night, including junior running back Justin Paige who put the Panthers on the board with a short run for a touchdown. The extra point was no good, however, so the Panthers only led 6-0. Perry Hall’s speed early in the game caught PB’s defense off guard which led to a Gator touchdown. With the extra point, the visitors held the lead 7-6. Panther junior Sam Doku put PB back on top with a 13-yard run, and the ensuing two point conversion. Not to be outdone, Perry Hall had a long run to tie up the game 14-14. However, this would not keep the Panthers down as they clapped back with another short rushing TD by Paige, and two point conversion, to go into halftime with a 22-14 lead.

The Panther defense seemed to figure out Perry Hall’s offense during halftime as they started the second half with some important defensive stops in the third quarter, which forced the Gators to turn over multiple times. PB junior quarterback Norman Douglas, Jr. threw a 65 yard pass to Agbodzah,who played well on both sides of the ball, and converted the two point try for a 30-14 lead. More stops by the defense gave Paint Branch’s offense ample opportunity to take advantage of the sleeping Gator defense. Paige scored twice more, one on a 35-yard run in the third quarter, and one on a 26 yard run in the fourth. With the win, Paint Branch moves into the Regional Finals, and Perry Hall heads back to Baltimore.

Paige, who had an outstanding four-touchdown game, talked about how the team prepared for this game. “Practice all week was cold, especially on Tuesday when it was raining, and it helped us play a better game than they did,” commented Paige.

The Panthers will host Howard this Friday for the 4A North Regional Championship, something the Panthers last won in 2013.