PB Drops Regional Final to Howard

Panthers Suffer Disappointing End to Successful Season

Chris Hatcher, Contributing Writer

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The highly anticipated Regional Championship matchup between the Paint Branch Panthers and Howard Lions attracted many fans in the Panther community, as Burtonsville has not hosted a regional game since 2013. With temperatures a tad warmer than the Panthers’ last game (a frigid win over Perry Hall), fans expected to see more of the Panthers’ deadly passing game.

After a rough offensive start, PB’s defense made some great stops, despite a long catch and run from the Lions. The Panthers forced Howard to kick a field goal, but PB was caught off guard when the Lions faked the field goal and got a first down. Shortly after, Howard scored to take a much needed 7-0 lead over the higher-seeded Panthers. The Lion’s momentum allowed them to stop the Panthers and clear a path to the end zone once more for a 14-0 lead. The Paint Branch stands seemed devastated at the early difficulty, but the sidelines had different plans. A quick spark in the offense turned this first half around when senior quarterback Norman Douglas Jr. threw a long touchdown pass to junior wide out Ishmael Agbodzah. The Panthers had trimmed the Lion lead to 14-7. This momentum carried onto the Panther defense as they forced a fumble and recovered in Howard territory. Douglass Jr., looked into the end zone again with a 20- yard pass to junior tight end Jordan Griffin. The pass was nearly intercepted, but due to Griffin’s outstanding concentration, he was able to snag the ball before it touched the ground, and sprint into the end zone to tie it up at 14-14. Both teams walked into the locker room at the half with the demeanor of the game changed.

After the half, the Panthers seemed to have hit a wall as the Lions had multiple scoresand PB could not keep up. Howard’s electrifying offense continued to perform throughout the second half. The Panthers fought until the end and did not let their spirit die, but victory was outside their grasp as the Lions moved on to the state semi-finals against the top-ranked team in the state, the Wise Pumas (the Pumas would go on to tame the Lions, 42-7).

Looking back at the PB’s amazing season, the Panthers finished 9-1 during the regular season and 10-2 overall. They had key wins over MoCo “Elite 6” teams Blake and Sherwood, clinching the divisional title for the first time since 2014.

Although Paint Branch did not reach their ultimate goal of a State Championship, a successful season will be enough to look back upon. Friday night lights may have come to an end, but the Panther community will continue to support Paint Branch athletics throughout the winter and spring.

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