DeMatha Defeats St. John’s; Dunbar Dominates Ballou

DeMatha Prevails, 21-14 in OT Over Rival St. John’s

It was yet another classic match between Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) powers when DeMatha and St. John’s played to a thrilling 21-14 overtime matchup that took an extra period with the Stags using a touchdown and a stop of at the goal line to eke out the win.

The game was played under Friday Night Lights at the Prince George’s Learning Center, was aired live on the ESPN High School Showcase and was as advertised.

The Stags (7-1), ranked third in the area, struck first in the first quarter but the Cadets (4-4), ranked seventh, answered with an 80-yard touchdown pass.  The first quarter ended in a 7-7 tie as the defenses of both teams took over and each held their counterparts scoreless until the fourth quarter.  

DeMatha again broke the tie with a grind-it-out drive that covered 75 yards.  St. Johns however again answered with a big play on an 80-yard pass for a score.

That set up the extra period. The  DeMatha Stags wasted no time when on the first play from the 25-yard line, junior quarterback Denzel Gardner connected with senior wide receiver Cody Williams.

On their possession, the St. John’s Cadets went to their ground game and moved the ball to the four-yard line.  However, they were not able to convert on the fourth down as senior defensive tackle Emmitt Laws made a big stop to snuff out an opportunity for the rivals.  The Stags followed with a spirited celebration in the rain.

“This is our third overtime of the season,” said DeMatha long-time head coach Bill McGregor.  “It was a gritty win.  You talk about it, you preach about it and you practice it, and then carry it over into the ballgame.”

The Stags have been dominant in the WCAC, who many regard as the top high school football and basketball conference in the county.  They are shooting for their unprecedented 25th title.  But of late, the Cadets have been a factor, having won two straight titles.

Both teams have lost to Good Counsel, the number one ranked team in the region– St. Johns’s 28-7 and DeMatha, 35-28 in overtime.

DeMatha closes out the regular season on Saturday, Oct. 28 at McNamara (6-2) at 1 p.m. while the Stags conclude its regular season on Saturday, Nov. 4 at Gonzaga (4-2).

The two rivals could meet again the weekend of Nov. 11 in the semifinal round of the WCAC playoffs.

“We did not show them everything,” proclaimed Gardner. “We still have a lot more to show and we expect the same outcome.”

Dunbar Dominates Ballou in Quest to Regain DCIAA Supremacy

For the past three years, Dunbar has watched Theodore Roosevelt dominate the DCIAA.  Dunbar’s Crimson Tide, once a power in the league, has been competitive but has not been able to achieve its past success because of the success of Roosevelt’s Rough Riders.

But in a twist, Dunbar (5-2) has won five straight games and has worked its way back impressively.  They sent a message with a convincing 62-34 win over Ballou (4-4) in Southeast Washington in a DCIAA matchup.  Through the games during that streak, the Crimson Tide has averaged over 50 points, including more than 60 twice.

Using a punishing ground attack led by senior running back Michael Clark and the deep ball passing of senior quarterback Brosnan Dukes to senior wide receiver Isaiah Brandon, the Crimson Tide outmatched the Knights in making them their latest victim.

“We were really just trying to run downhill, just run the ball,” Clark said. “I knew they didn’t want to tackle me … and there’s a lot of new stuff that people are running, so we just needed to get back to that old-school football, which is running the ball.”

Clark was the focal point for that strategy, coming out with a 21-yard touchdown run — breaking three tackles in the process — on Dunbar’s opening drive. Both teams traded blows early on, and Ballou’s response was swift: a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown from Lorenzo Martin.

Ballou (4-4) was able to stay in the game early due to some missed tackles and some explosive plays on kick returns by Martin. Coming out of the halftime break, Dunbar made some adjustments and used the onside kick as a countermeasure to the dangerous Rough Riders’ return specialists, twice recovering onside kicks.  The defense then took over and secured the win.

“We do want to use the onside kick as a weapon,” Head Coach Anthony “Bink” Vaughn said. “We use it as an advantage so the momentum changes.”

Dunbar tried a third onside kick that didn’t work, giving the Rough Riders a solid field position on their first drive of the half. But Dunbar’s defense showed up to kill any attempt at a comeback.

Dunbar has games remaining against upstart Eastern at home on Oct. 27 at and three-time reigning champion, Roosevelt (Nov. 4) before the playoffs start in three weeks putting it in position for a Stars Division title.


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