By Chris McManes
The Friday night clash between No. 3 DeMatha and top-ranked Good Counsel at Dancel Field in Olney was an entertaining and spirited football game between two talented teams. The Falcons, however, will remember it more fondly than the Stags.
Good Counsel drove 80 yards in a little over a minute to tie the game late and won it in overtime 35-28.
“We competed really well for 47 minutes and 30 seconds, but it’s a 48-minute football game,” DeMatha coach Bill McGregor said. “You’ve got to make plays when you need to, and we didn’t make the big play at the end.”
The Falcons improve to 6-1 and 2-0 in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference. The Stags fall to 6-1 and 1-1.
When DeMatha junior running back Bud Coombs scored from 5 yards out to give his team a 28-20 lead with 1:32 to play in regulation, things were looking good for the Stags. They had just marched 64 yards – all on running plays – and consumed six minutes and 14 seconds. Coombs had a 16-yard run on the drive, and sophomore Elijah Lee ran for 23.
After two incompletions by Good Counsel quarterback Frankie Weaver from his own 20-yard line, DeMatha appeared to have the game won when senior Cody Williams intercepted a pass near midfield. The celebration was short-lived because the Stags were called for roughing the passer.
“We had the interception where the game was iced, but we had the late hit,” McGregor said. “We’ve just got to clean up our mistakes and get better from here.”
Williams didn’t lament the penalty.
“It hurt me a little bit, but at the same time [it’s on to the] next play,” he said. “I just said forget about it, play the next down, play football.”
With a fresh set of downs at the 35, Weaver completed a 10-yard pass to Kobe Ellis. Dilin Jones ran a draw for 24 yards, and Weaver found Damarian Fowlkes in the right corner of the end zone for a 31-yard touchdown with 26 seconds left. Jones finished with 116 yards rushing and three TDs.
Weaver, a senior who has committed to Monmouth University, hit Ellis for the two-point conversion to tie the game at 28.
“You can’t allow that to happen,” McGregor said of the game-tying drive. “If you’re gonna win, you’ve got to make some good things happen. We had them on the ropes and let ’em off.”
The Falcons had the opening possession of overtime, starting at the DeMatha 25. On their first play, Joseph Williams ran straight up the middle for 24 yards. Jones scored a play later to put Good Counsel up by seven.
After 7- and 9-yard runs by Coombs, the Stags had a second-and-one from the Falcons’ 3. Junior quarterback Denzel Gardner was dropped for a 1-yard loss, and Coombs lost two yards on a tackle by Clemson recruit Darien Mayo. On fourth down, Indiana pledge Judah Jenkins picked off Gardner’s pass in the end zone. Game over.
Jones, who has committed to Wisconsin, sandwiched his first two TDs around a 4-yard scoring pass from Gardner to sophomore Landon Williams to put the Falcons on top 14-7. DeMatha tied it just before the half on Lee’s 26-yard, nearly untouched run up the middle.
The Stags assumed a 21-14 lead when Cody Williams took a lateral from Gardner and passed to junior Emmanuel Dyson for a 33-yard TD. DeMatha started the possession on its 45 after sophomore Lavar Keys’ 38-yard kickoff return.
Good Counsel pulled to within one a mere 12 seconds later on an 80-yard TD pass from Weaver to Fowlkes. Sophomore Darrell Carey blocked the extra point.
Coombs had one of his finest games as a Stag, rushing 24 times for 139 yards and a touchdown. His career high of 160 yards came in the season opener against Springfield (Ohio). Lee, who rushed 11 times for a personal-best 90 yards and a score, also played well.
“We did a lot of good things, but you’re here to win,” McGregor said. “We’ve just got to look at the film, see what we did well and build on that. What we didn’t do well, we’ve got to get better on that.”
Cody Williams is no stranger to throwing touchdown passes. The wide receiver and defensive back came to DeMatha in 2020 as a quarterback.
After taking the lateral, he saw Dyson break free along the left sideline. The pass hung in the air a little, allowing a Falcon defender to catch up, but Dyson caught it and took a few steps into the end zone.
“We drew the attention toward me and I just threw the ball,” Williams said. “I trusted my receiver and I trusted the play.”
The Stags fell one spot to No. 4 in The Washington Post Top 20. Good Counsel (6-1) remained No. 1. St. John’s (4-3) is ranked fifth, Gonzaga (5-2) 10th and McNamara (6-1) 16th.
DeMatha hosts St. John’s at the P.G. Sports and Learning Complex on Friday at 8 p.m. It will be televised on ESPNU. The Cadets are coming off a 23-14 win over McNamara.
“We’ve got another game that’s going to be as tough as this one,” McGregor said. “St. John’s is a great football team, and we’ve got to come out and answer the challenge.”
Cody Williams thinks the loss to the Falcons will serve as “great motivation” for the rest of the season.
“We’re going to come back to work very hard,” he said. “The other captains and I will definitely be on the guys harder than ever. We’re ready to hit the ground running and go against SJC this week.”
Chris McManes covers DeMatha football for the Hyattsville Life & Times.