Executing its game plan to near perfection, host Boys’ Latin frustrated a potent Archbishop Curley running game, turned the Friars over five times and delivered a series of big play knockout blows to cruise to a 35-7 MIAA B Conference football victory over the 17th-ranked Friars, Saturday afternoon on Lake Avenue.

Despite Curley’s significant size advantage on the interior, BL (2-1, 1-0) was quicker and went to the ball in waves, frustrating Curley’s tandem of senior backs, Tyrone Roper and James Diggs, for much of the contest. Both Curley backs fumbled in the contest, as did starting quarterback Isaac Clarke, while Clarke and backup Brendan Clay were intercepted once each by the Lakers.

“Curley is a hell of a team. A couple of their fumbles were forced by us,” said Boys’ Latin coach Ritchie Schell. “I don’t think they played their best game, but we certainly played as well as we have played all year. I give the kids credit.”

After the teams opened the game by trading punts, BL sophomore linebacker Gio Biggers picked off a Clarke pass at the Curley 21, midway through the opening quarter, and the Lakers needed just four plays to get in the end zone for the first time.

On a first-and-goal snap from the Curley five, BL quarterback Brendan Crouse handed off to Devon Brewer, who quickly reversed it to senior Desmond Banks. As Banks approached the edge, the Curley defense pursued aggressively. It proved to be a trap, as Banks flipped a shovel pass out to the flank to Crouse, who had filtered out of the backfield unattended, before catching the ball and walking into the end zone for the game’s first score.

It was just the start of an incredible afternoon for Banks, who later scored on a 99-yard return of a fumble and, on the final play of the first half, returned a missed field goal 102 yards for a touchdown, giving the Lakers a commanding, 28-7 lead at the half.

“The first one, I have to give the credit to one of my teammates, Koby Russell,” said Banks. “He stripped him and I saw the ball and picked it up. I just made a play.”

Curley’s best offensive drive came after BL’s first score as the Friars (2-1, 0-1) countered with a nine play 78-yard drive that was capped off by a 16-yard touchdown run by Diggs, which tied the contest, at 7-7, with 11 minutes, 17 seconds to play in the second quarter. The big play on the march was a 36-yard run by Diggs on a third-and-eight play from the Curley 24.

After another exchange of punts, BL started its next drive in excellent field position, at the Curley 47. Crouse then led a five-play scoring drive, completing 3-of-3 passes for for 45 yards, including a 16-yard TD toss to junior Connor Walsh that provided a 14-7 Lakers’ lead.

Curley countered with a 60-yard kickoff return from junior Ikeye Williams to setup of the Friar offense at the BL 36. A few snaps later, Clarke completed a 32-yard throw to Diggs, giving the Friars a 1st-and-goal at the Laker one. On the next play, Clarke kept the ball up the middle and disappeared into a huge scrum near the goal line, before the ball suddenly squirted out of the pile and was scooped up by Banks, who had nothing but open space in front of him, as he sprinted the length of the field for the touchdown.

The Curley staff argued that Clake had crossed the goal line before BL’s Russell slapped it loose. Stunned, the Friars tried desperately to get some points before the half and lined up for a 55-yard field goal attempt by Trevor Mavromilhalis with just four seconds remaining in the half. Mavromilhas, who kicked a 55-yarder at BL last year, came up short with his attempt and Banks fielded it two-yards deep in his own end zone and returned it all the way for a back-breaking score on the final play of the opening half.

If the first Banks touchdown had not irritated the Curley coaches enough, this one put them over the edge. Banks clearly fielded the ball in the end zone and, under high school rules, a kick fielded in the end zone should be ruled as a touchback. That call was not made and Banks was allowed to bring it out.

Curley’s first two possessions of the second half ended with fumbles recovered by the Lakers. The Friars moved inside the BL 30 on their first drive of the second half, but Jake Schneider fell on a ball separated from Diggs. After DaeKwon Hall recovered a Crouse fumble, to return the ball to Curley, Roper was dislodged from the football on a first-and-goal snap from the Laker one, giving BL yet another score denying turnover.

In the middle of so many of BL’s big defensive plays was senior defensive lineman Victor Dimukeje, who has already fielded more than 30 Division 1 scholarship offers. According to him, the victory was a reward for so much hard work by he and his teammates.

“We worked hard in practice every day. Everybody showed up today and we all made plays. We expected to beat them,” said Dimukeje. “We just worked hard on defense. We knew we could beat a team like that. They were aggressive the whole time, but we came out more aggressive, so we were able to make the plays to stop them.”

In the fourth quarter, Boys’ Latin capped the scoring when Crouse completed a 40-yard touchdown throw to junior Rashawn Evans.

According to Schell, his squad must continue to work hard to build upon this victory.

“We can’t be complacent. We play St. Mary’s next, which always gives us a fit and then you get Pallotti, who is great,” said Schell. “We can’t take anybody for granted because quite frankly, we could be on the other end. We could be the ones making the fumbles, so we’re just going to continue to work hard and hopefully come out on top. We won’t give up. We’ve got a good group of kids here.”

AC   0   7   0  0  —   7
BL   7  21  0  7  —  35

BL – Crouse 5 yard pass from Banks (Grace kick)

AC – Diggs 16 run (Mavromilhas kick)
BL – Walsh 16 pass from Crouse (Grace kick)
BL – Banks 99 fumble return (Grace kick)
BL – Banks 102 missed FG return (Grace kick)

BL – Evans 40 pass from Crouse (Grace kick)