With 8:00 to play in regulation, his team holding on to a 28-21 lead and facing a 4th and 9 from its own 41, #2 ranked Good Counsel coach Bob Milloy had an idea. He’d just seen his team’s 14 point lead cut in half, due largely to #1 DeMatha blocking Good Counsel’s previous punt attempt. DeMatha’s Jordan Scott streaked in from the left side, blocked the kick and the ball rolled all the way back from the Good Counsel 35 (the point at which it was blocked) to the Good Counsel 11 yard line. The play changed the momentum of the game. Milloy needed to change it back. Not wanting to chance another special teams breakdown, Milloy called on a play the team had been practicing for two weeks. Lined up in punt formation, the ball was directly snapped to upback punt-protector #19 Stephen Fritz-Claggett. Claggett caught the snap and ran 25 yards for a first down at the DeMatha 34 yard line. Nine plays and 5:00 of game time later, Good Counsel’s Carwan Karim put his toe into a 27 yard field goal that pushed the Good Counsel (7-0, 4-0) lead to 31-21 with 3:00 left in the 4th quarter. The defense held DeMatha (5-1, 3-1) in check the rest of the way and a big portion of the estimated crowd of over 7,000 rushed the field in celebration of Good Counsel’s first win over DeMatha since 1996, when a little known QB named Scott McBrien was at the helm for the Falcons (after that season he transferred to DeMatha).
The game was a tremendous show put on by two teams that are clearly worthy of the state’s #1 and #2 rankings. They’re likely to meet again in the WCAC championship game and the sequel bring back all those who were in attendance tonight and then some.
Actually, before kickoff, it almost seemed like tonight’s game wouldn’t be played. Lightning delayed the start twice and heavy rain threatened the field conditions. It all cleared off though and 30 minutes behind schedule, the bell sounded for this heavyweight fight.
Field conditions were an issue right away. Good Counsel kicked off. On DeMatha’s first play from scrimmage, the exchange between fullback and QB was botched by the slippery footing and on-rushing LB Akeem Hebron. The ensuing fumble was recovered by Dwight Galt at the DeMatha 19 yard line. Hebron, one of the state’s top juniors, was a factor all night with 12 tackles while playing hurt at times. Good Counsel was in position to land an early big punch, but it didn’t happen. DeMatha’s defense rose to the occasion and Good Counsel missed a 28 yard field goal.
DeMatha’s offense went three and out on its next possession. Not only that, but they committed a facemask penalty that set Good Counsel up with 1st and 10 at the Stag 31 yard line. Jerron Pearson went nearly untouched up the middle for a 31 yard score on the 1-play drive. 7-0 Good Counsel.
DeMatha’s offense drove 13 yards on six plays before punting. On a 2nd and 8 from its own 46, the Stags tested Good Counsel deep and looked like they might connect. Only a spectacular, leaping break-up by Good Counsel DB Greg Ligon prevented a potentially huge play. On a 3rd and 8 from its own 46 future Maryland Terps collided when DE Tom Galt drilled RB Jeff Allen on an attempted draw for a loss of 1 yard. After the punt and change of possession, it was Good Counsel’s turn to botch a QB-RB exchange. DeMatha recovered and took over at the Good Counsel 37.
Nine plays later, early in the second quarter, Kenneth Jefferson plowed over the left side for a TD and the game was tied at 7 with 11:47 to play in the 2nd quarter.
The teams traded possessions until there was under 4:00 to play in the half. DeMatha fumbled on its own 36 yard line and Good Counsel DB Reggie Gooch scooched 36 yards in the other direction with the recovery, giving Good Counsel a 14-7 lead with 3:52 left in the 2nd quarter.
DeMatha responded immediately and leveled the score before halftime. QB Marc Pablador rolled left and hit TE Ryan Griffith for a 13 yard gain. Jefferson picked up 8 yards on the ground. Allen gained 6 and then 35 yards, before scoring from 5 yards out on his third straight carry. As we’ve seen all season, Allen was a breakaway threat every time he touched the football. Game tied at 14 at the half and it seemed like DeMatha’s running game was on the verge of taking over.
Early in the second half, Good Counsel pounced on another DeMatha mistake when the Falcons recovered a fumble. From his own 47, Good Counsel QB Reggie Gooch threw back to split out WR Drew Gloster. Gloster reversed back across the field and picked up 20 yards. Six plays later, Good Counsel scored on a 4 yard run by Jerron Pearson. 21-14 Good Counsel with 6:41 left in the 3rd quarter. On the play, Good Counsel lined up with an unbalanced line to the left and then motioned another player left, giving them eight blockers on one side of the ball. Pearson ran for 118 yards and 2 TDs on the evening.
DeMatha couldn’t advance past its own 40 yard line before being forced to punt. Good Counsel return man Tyrell Jones has made big plays on special teams all season long and that trend continued tonight. Jones fielded the punt at his own 31 yard line and raced 69 yards for a TD, giving Good Counsel a huge boost of momentum and a 28-14 lead with 3:11 left in the 3rd quarter.
For the game, Good Counsel’s defense was led by Hebron with his 12 tackles. DE Tommy Galt had 7 tackles and a QB hurry. DT Deege Galt had 4 tackles, a tackle for loss and a fumble recovery. Also outstanding on the Good Counsel defense was Fritz Mollard who had 8 tackles. Falcon QB Reggie Gooch went 6-10 for 45 yards.
NOTES: DeMatha had its 17 game winning streak ended.
In attendance tonight were a group of assistant coaches from the University of Maryland. They had multiple seniors and juniors to watch perform on the field and the coaches were EXTREMELY impressed with the level of play on the field.
Also in attendance was former Paint Branch and Florida State star and current Arizona Cardinal Darnell Dockett. Darnell is cousins with Good Counsel QB/DB Reggie Gooch. Darnell and I chatted for a little while on the sideline and he looks good. He remarked that there is a difference between players in the south and players from Maryland. He said that players from Maryland love to play football. He said that players from the south LIVE to play football. He then added a part that suggested that our players up here typically get better educations than the southerners. It was an interesting exchange. Darnell is in town because Arizona is in the midst of a bye week.