BOWIE, Md. - In the third annual Maryland Crab Bowl on Saturday, pitting the best prospects from the Washington D.C. area vs. the best from the Baltimore area, Baltimore held on for a 21-17 win in frigid conditions at Bowie State University.
Washington D.C. cornerback Sherrod Baltimore, after dominating practice all week, kept it up during the game. The 5-foot-10, 160-pound defender intercepted three passes and was easily the star of the game, even in defeat.
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"It was a back-and-forth game," Baltimore said. "We were just trying to do whatever we could to be the last ones with the lead. It didn't happen though. We played well. We just didn't get the win.
"I think I played well. I really didn't expect to come out here and have three picks but I guess I was just in the right place at the right time. I did my best to cover my man and I was able to come up with the ball a few times."
What's most impressive is Baltimore, who is still waiting for his first FBS offer, has only played cornerback for one season. It didn't show as one of his interceptions came on the 4-yard line to stop an imminent scoring drive and another saw him manage to reel in the catch while keeping one foot in-bounds.
"I played quarterback all the way up until this year," he said. "I still played QB this year along with some running back and wide receiver but my coach talked me into playing corner. He had always mentioned it to me before and I never wanted to play it.
"I figured why not give it a chance this year. I'm glad I did it. It came pretty naturally to me. I think my future is definitely as a corner. My coach said that if I played corner, Division I schools would come in late with offers since this was my first year to play it. After showing what I can do this week, I'm hoping some come in."
Baltimore was not the only unsung star for the Washington D.C. team. Defensive end Giovani Francois, who moved from Florida in the middle of the season, had a dominant game of his own. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound defender finished with eight tackles, three tackles for loss and two sacks.
"It was good to go up against some Division I tackles (Ben Curtis and Hunter Goodwin)," Francois said. "They had their moments and I had mine. On one of my sacks I used a spin move and got off the block really quick.
"After the game I was talking to them and told them that they were some of the best linemen I've ever gone against. They told me the same thing. It was good to show what I could do against Division I guys."
Francois has offers from Florida International, Louisville, Rutgers and Western Kentucky, with Cincinnati and Maryland showing heavy interest as well.
Baltimore's defense was led by three-star Virginia commit Marco Jones. The 6-foot-4, 235-pound defensive end had a solid game, getting in the backfield a few times. One of the more intriguing matchups was Jones against fellow Virginia commit Kelby Johnson. The two lined up against each other for much of the second half.
"Marco got me one time," the 6-foot-8, 285-pound Johnson said. "I told him that was the only time he was going to get me, though. It was fun going up against him since we're going to be playing together next year."
Another Virginia commit, four-star athlete Brandon Phelps, had a nice 51-yard touchdown reception from his high school quarterback Connor Frazier. Marshall wide receiver commitment Levern Jacobs had three nice receptions for D.C. while Milton Williams added an 18-yard touchdown pass. He also had another long touchdown reception that was called back for illegal man downfield.
Washington four-star defensive tackle Darian Cooper lined up at end for much of the afternoon and was a disruptive force off the edge. Outside linebackers Darien Harris, a Michigan State commitment, and Alex Twine, a Maryland commit, both had several tackles as well.
Cooper was listed at 6-foot-3, 275 pounds coming into the week. However, in reality he is a bit shy of 6-foot-1. He also does not have the huge frame that most college defensive tackles possess. He has a great motor but his size causes some question marks about his potential at the next level.
Twine's size also causes questions marks. However, he has the opposite problem. He is a little too big to be an outside linebacker for the Terps. He does not move all that well laterally. He could end up moving inside next year.
Baltimore running back Quentin Ezell had a solid game, scoring a 5-yard touchdown and converting two crucial first downs late in the contest. The 5-foot-10, 220-pound power runner could make a solid fullback for somebody. Washington running back Crusoe Gongbay also had an impressive showing. The 6-foot, 180-pound runner showed great hands as well as the willingness to lower his shoulder and gain extra yards.
Virginia Tech commit Michael Branthover was one of the top kickers in the state this season. However, he did not have his best day on Saturday. Though he opened the scoring with a 29-yard field goal, it was downhill from there. He missed a 45-yard attempt so short that Connecticut commit Adrian Amos was able to catch it 8 yards deep in the end zone and return it to the 28-yard line. He then proceeded to shank his next punt for 18 yards. Branthover was not able to practice kicking for much of the week as the University of Maryland indoor facility was much too small to accommodate any kicking or punting so it could have been a case of him being rusty.