Forest Park High’s football team knew the legs and arm of Douglass’ Carlos Croslin would be its biggest obstacle Friday afternoon. But in the end, the sure hands of Chidi Flowers kept the Foresters’ perfect season intact.
The senior caught the game-winning touchdown with 69 seconds remaining in regulation, then intercepted a pass in the end zone to secure Forest Park’s 13-12 decision to take sole possession of first in the Baltimore City league’s Division II.
Senior quarterback Andrew Allen threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Makell for Forest Park (9-0 overall, 7-0 Division II), which won its 19th straight regular season decision. Croslin and Zach Morris each had a rushing touchdown for Douglass (7-2, 6-1 Division II).
Croslin, a dual-threat quarterback who accounted for more than 1,700 yards coming into Friday’s game, was relatively kept under control by Foresters until breaking a 70-yard run down the sidelines giving the Ducks their first lead with under five minutes left. The Foresters responded, moving closer to the No. 1 seed in the 1A South Region and a second straight undefeated regular season and division title.
“They’ve just performed all year, they don’t quit,” said Forest Park coach Damon Bomar, whose team was out-gained, 224-98. “These kids play both ways so they’re constantly going. I worry about if they’re going to wear down, but they just persevere and perform.”
“As I seen Carlos [Croslin] score, I turned to my team and told them ‘look, we’re going to see who has heart in this game’,” said Foresters’ senior two-way linemen Ryan Jolley.
The Ducks squibbed the ensuing kickoff and Makell was able to advance the ball to Douglass’ 35-yard line. Makell got 10 yards on a third-and-2, giving Forest Park a first down at the Ducks’ 17.
With a Douglass defender closing in, Allen calmly stood in pocket and released a throw high across the middle where Flowers brought down near the backline for the touchdown.
“If the ball is in the air, I’m going to get it, anytime anyplace,” said Flowers.
“I just trusted my line and got the ball to Chidi,” said Allen, 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds. “He did the rest.”
A 25-yard run by Croslin (196 total yards) with a prime-time facemask grab by Forest Park put Douglass on the Foresters’ 21 with 41 seconds. With Allen about to bring him down to the ground, Croslin sent a pass to the end zone where Flowers was waiting, and he returned the ball to the 15 with 21 seconds left in regulation.
“I expect plays like that,” said Bomar. “These kids are so unselfish.”
On fourth-and-16, Flowers stretched out to haul in Allen’s pass for 17 yards and a first-and-goal. On the next play, Allen started to move to his right out the pocket then switched direction and found Makell in the flat for the game’s first points with five seconds remaining in the first half.
After stopping Forest Park at their 2-yard line, Douglass promptly went 98 yards in 10 plays as Morris scored from five yards out. Croslin keyed the drive with a 38-yard completion to Maleek Williams (four receptions for 81 yards).
Croslin eluded pressure in the pocket, broke out to his left and went down the Ducks’ sideline to the end zone, giving them its first lead with 4:37 remaining in regulation. Douglass weren’t able to maintain it, suffering its first loss since week one.
“We basically picked the biggest game to play our worst game,” said Douglass coach Elwood Townsend, whose team is still in a favorable position to gain its first state postseason bid. “I told the kids all week that we have to rely on each other. Unfortunately, one person kept trying to win the game for us.”
The Foresters have winless IBE remaining next weekend before returning to the 1A South Region playoffs. Just three seasons ago, Forest Park was 2-8.
“You got to give to the coaches, they saw something is us,” said Flowers. “They believe in us and we believe in them.”
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