No. 2 Mount St. Joseph unable to find offensive groove, falls to Good Counsel
by Demetrius Dillard
Special to VSN
After last year’s shelling at Good Counsel, Mount St. Joseph football team knew it needed a vastly improved showing in the rematch Saturday afternoon. The Gaels’ defense empathically checked the proverbial box, however, their offense didn’t.
The Falcons from Montgomery County defeated the second-ranked Gaels, 19-7, at Pleyvak Field in Irvington. Senior quarterback Trace Campbell threw for a touchdown and rushed for 53 yards, and Harold Miles returned an interception for a touchdown.
The Falcons (2-0 overall), ranked 4th in the state media preseason Top 25 poll, got two early scores to spoil Mount St. Joseph’s home debut. Miles Cross had four receptions for 60 yards and a touchdown for Good Counsel.
The Gaels’ offense, which produced 93 points in its first two games, was ineffective for most of Saturday. From untimely turnovers to poor line blocking to inability to capitalize in the red zone, Mount St. Joseph had its lowest scoring output since a 58-6 decision at Good Counsel last season.
“We gotta get better on offense. Defense is lights out right now, they’re great,” said Mount St. Joseph coach Rich Holzer, whose team is ranked 3rd in the state. “Offensively it’s very questionable; you know we do some very good things at times and some very bad things, so we gotta be more consistent.”
Junior quarterback Billy Atkins went 17-of-26 for 140 yards and a touchdown, but threw two interceptions and lost a fumble. On the game’s fourth play from scrimmage, Atkins was hit from his blindside, fumbled and Kris Jenkins recovered at Mount St. Joseph’s 30.
The Falcons cashed in as running Sy’Veon Wilkerson scored on a 16-yard run with 8 minutes, 16 seconds left in the opening quarter. Eleven seconds later, an Atkins screen pass snatch by Miles who went 25 yards to the end zone, putting Good Counsel up, 13-0.
The Gaels (2-1), who didn’t get their first 1st down until late in the second quarter, got their first chunk play as Atkins found Tyler Wilkins for a 31-yard gain into Good Counsel territory. A roughing the passer penalty on the play advanced the ball into the red zone.
Mount St. Joseph reached the Falcon 12, but failed to convert on 4th down. Good Counsel converted a pair of 4th downs to the start the second half as Cross got free on the sidelines and hauled in Campbell’s pass for a 34-yard touchdown and a 19-0 advantage.
The Gaels got a break as senior linebacker Marlowe Wax intercepted Campbell and returned it to Good Counsel’s 22. On the next play, however, Jason Scott intercepted Atkins in the end zone.
Mount St. Joseph finally crossed the end zone with two minutes left in the third with Atkins finding Dont’e Thornton open down the middle for a 19-yard touchdown. The Gaels had two possessions in the fourth quarter end on downs.
“Our defense was phenomenal. It’s a lot of seniors on that defense,” said Good Counsel coach Andy Stefanelli, whose defensive line was bookended by Big 10 Conference commits Jenkins (Ohio State) and Mitchell Melton (Michigan). “They’re the heartbeat of our team and we’re really relying on them…when we need the play, they make plays.
I thought we did a good job offensively controlling the clock in the second half…We wanted to get off to a fast start on offense. We were able to get a score then we got a pick-six, which was a huge play by our defense.”
Other than Cross’ easy catch-and-run score, Mount St. Joseph’s defense was outstanding Saturday. Junior linebacker Brandon Fique had a sack and Baltimore Touchdown Club Super 22 linebacker Nate Slutzky recovered a fumble, to go along with Wax’s interception.
Wax, a Syracuse commit, said the Gaels didn’t produce the complete effort Saturday to compete with the perennial Washington Catholic Athletic Conference powerhouse.
“On defense, we did good. We let up one or two touchdowns,” said Wax, who added 68 yards rushing. “On offense, I feel we didn’t do good at all. We need to fix everything. As a whole, I just feel like we need to come harder and just execute everywhere on the field.”
Good Counsel 19, No. 2 Mount St. Joseph 7
Good Counsel 13 0 6 0 – 19
Mount St. Joseph 0 0 7 0 – 7
Good Counsel – Sy’Veon Wilkerson 16 run (Vincent Errigo kick)
Good Counsel – Harold Miles 25 interception return (kick blocked)
Good Counsel – Miles Cross 34 pass from Trace Campbell (kick failed)
Mount St. Joseph – Dont’e Thornton 11 pass from Billy Atkins (Scott Martin kick)