Maryland powers their way to the 2016 8th-Grade FBU National Championship
Seattle received the ball to start the game, and got huge momentum-boost with a return to midfield to open the game. Seattle quarterback Paulo Banchero led the Pacific Northwesterners straight down the field, hitting Emeka Egbuka for a deep touchdown pass. Seattle's known for their 12th man, and they came out in full force tonight with noise all game long.
Maryland's Antwain Littleton and Jalil Farooq helped Maryland respond, with Littleton bringing Maryland up to speed with a touchdown run.
Banchero continued his stellar tournament leading Seattle in to the red zone on their ensuing drive. It took three tries, but running back Julien Simon put another Seattle touchdown on the board and Seatt;e took a 14-7 lead.
Maryland quarterback CJ Henry made a beautiful connection with Zion Larkins on a deep post route, and Larkins did the rest all the way to the end zone - but the play was negated and placed at the spot of a personal foul. No matter for Maryland, as Antwain Littleton scored his second of the night to pull Maryland even again, 14-14 midway through the second quarter.
Maryland RB and Player of the Year candidate Antwain Littleton
rushed for two touchdowns in the first half
Seattle's Tinae-Faimalo returned the subsequent kick into Maryland territory, but Seattle's offense stalled. Seattle went for it on 4th & 10, but Maryland's Tajae Johnson put the pressure on Banchero and his pass sailed just out of reach of Caden Jumper.
Littleton was a beast on the big stage heping Maryland to consecutive first downs on four straight snaps to open up their final drive of the half. He rumbled for extra powerful yards and even acted as lead blocker for Reggie Proctor on an end around. Farooq gave him a breather but the offense didn't miss a step, gaining another first down as Maryland continued deep into Seattle territory. With the defense on their heels against their own end zone, Littleton ran up the gut to the one before CJ Henry executed a sneak to give Maryland a 21-14 lead with twelve seconds left, its first lead of the game.
Jalil Farooq intercepted a throw over the middle and returned it all the way to the ten as the half expired, but Maryland was gifted one final play due to a facemask penalty against Seattle. CJ Henry completed to Caleb Coombs in the end zone and Maryland enjoyed a 13-point swing in just twelve seconds to take a 27-14 halftime lead. Amazingly, Coombs almost didn't play after flying home the day before this final to take exams. But it was he who came up big in the clutch, running a great slant route and putting clamps on six as the first half expired.
Caleb Coombs flew home in between the Semifinal and Final to take exams,
then came up big before the half with a touchdown catch.
Maryland received to start the second half, and settled into a methodical power running game to wear down a highly-talented Seattle front seven. Two costly penalties put a stop to their fluidity, and Maryland ended up using two timeouts on their opening second half drive. Seattle put a stop to any chance at newfound Maryland mojo with a sack on 3rd & 12 from midfield, forcing a punt.
Seattle took over at their own 18 and Julien Simon broke a big 43-yard run on the first snap, and five more yards were tacked on for a facemask penalty. But on the very next snap Michael Bailey Johnson caused Simon to fumble, and Maryland's Jordan Anderson recovered to give Maryland the ball back on their own 33. Maryland was winning the turnover battle to this point, sitting at plus-two, and continued giivng the ball to their bellcow Littleton, hoping to ride his powerful runs to a National Championship. Maryland gambled on 4th & 1 at their own 43, and converted - but on the ensuing snap Seattle linebacker Stiles Seva Tu'u dropped deep into man coverage over the middle and intercepted Maryland quarterback CJ Henry.
Entering the fourth quarter, Seattle held the momentum. But Maryland's defense rose to the occasion. Seattle went for it on 4th & 15 from the Maryland 26, and Michael Bailey Johnson came up big again deflecting away the intended pass for Egbuka.
Jalil Farooq flexes after scoring his fourth quarter touchdown
and eclipsing 100 yards on the night
Antwain Littleton took the very next play 74 yards to the house, for his third of the night as the Maryland fans erupted with cheers for their favorite 8th-grade son. Seattle muffed the ensuing kickoff and Garry Rosemond was there to recover for Maryland. Jalil Farooq took the very next snap 36 yards to the end zone, joining his teammate Littleton in the 100-yard rushing club and giving Maryland a commanding 41-14 lead, which they would hold for more than 5:00 until the final whistle.
With under 1:00 left, the mission was completed with a victory formation and a Gatorade bath.
Maryland are 2016 8th-Grade Football University National Champions.
2016 Football University 8th-Grade National Champions - Maryland
The Maryland offensive line were a dominant force, building pockets and creating holes all night against a vaunted Seattle offensive line. Two Maryland running backs rushed for more than 100 yards on the night -- Antwain Littleton finished with 238, and Jalil Farooq with 100-even.
In National Championship history, no team has made more final four appearances than Maryland.