As DeMatha Catholic High lined up to take the final snap in its football victory over McDonogh School Friday evening, Eagle cornerback BJ Farrare stooped down on the 30-yard line marker and bowed his head.
What started promising for Farrare and the top-ranked Eagles disintegrated in a 49-28 decision to the Stags at John McDonogh Stadium in Owings Mills. Senior running back Khory Spruill rushed for 152 yards and three touchdowns for DeMatha (4-0 overall), ranked No. 4 nationally by USA Today, and Air Force recruit Beau English threw for two scores and rushed for two.
The three-time defending Washington Catholic Athletic Conference champ Stags scored on their first six possessions to build a 42-14 lead, giving the league its third win in eight matches against the MIAA A Conference this season. Saturday, defending MIAA A champ Gilman School hosts Good Counsel, ranked No. 2 in the state media Top 25.
DeMatha left little doubt of its state’s top-ranking Friday in the showcase match between the premier leagues in the DMV (District-Maryland-northern Virginia region).
“They’re a national Top 5 power team with gigantic linemen,” said McDonogh coach Dom Damico, whose team’s ranked No. 3 in the state. “If half their linemen suited up on Sunday, they could play for the Ravens. We tried to coach our kids up and had them worried a little bit.”
The Eagles (3-1) marched the ball into the end zone, capped by Mylique McGriff’s 2-yard run, on the game’s opening drive. They were in position for a two-touchdown lead after Farrare intercepted English and returned it 65 yards to the opposite end zone, but a roughing the passer penalty negated the play.
“It changed momentum a lot,” said Farrare, a junior. “It made it tough out there.”
DeMatha went on to score, but the Eagles immediately answered. Senior wide receiver Marquis Thornes connected with Jack Simmons (3 catches, 90 yards) for a 65-yard option pass, putting McDonogh back in front, 14-7.
After the extra-point, DeMatha coach Elijah Brooks gathered his entire squad and the Stags started rolling. Spruill capped a 68-yard drive with a 3-yard plunge with less than a minute left in the opening quarter. After a bad McDonogh punt snap, Spruill was back in the end zone from 2 yards, giving the Stags the lead for good early in the second.
The Hyattsville school turned away the Eagles in its terrority and went 76 yards as Dominic Lyles hauled in English’s throw for a 31-yard score. English found Delante Hellams from 33 yards, completing a 6-play, 62-yard series for a 35-14 halftime lead.
“I didn’t feel like they weren’t playing DeMatha football and how important this game was,” said Brooks, a former standout Stag running back who succeeded legendary coach Bill McGregor (now an assistant at St. Frances Academy) in 2011. “Let’s give them our best shot.”
“Their offensive line kept getting a great push on our defensive line,” said Farrare. “We tried to do the best we could. At the end of day, they outplayed us.”
Farrare got a “pick-six” late in the third, stepping in front reserve quarterback Tyler Lenhart’s pass and taking it 60 yards. After an interception by Wayne Sharpe, McGriff (20 carries, 74 yards) completed a 10-play, 47-yard drive with a 1-yard run, pulling McDonogh to 42-28 early in the fourth.
On the ensuing drive, English got across the goal line on 4th-and-goal. The Stags scored on all seven possessions guided by English, who went a perfect 17-of-17 passing for 217 yards.
A Pikesville resident, English attended Gilman as a freshman.
“We just executed our coaches’ game plan to perfection,” said English. “We got it done tonight and I think it was one of our best nights offensively.”
Damico said DeMatha is the best team he’s faced in his 30-plus years of coaching. He commended his team’s effort against the bigger and more talented Stags, but the penalties and mental errors the Eagles have overcome in the first couple of weeks, need to stop with MIAA A play on the horizon.
“We decided not to give up and give 110-percent all over the field,” said Farrare, whose team has one final non-league match against Canada Prep next weekend before starting MIAA A play Oct. 8 against Loyola Blakefield. “We have a lot of little mental mistakes that we pride ourselves not to do, but on game day, it seems everything we talk about during the week goes straight out of our ears. This week, we all need to step up and stop the mistakes.”
DeMatha Catholic 49, No. 1 McDonogh School 28
DeMatha 14 21 7 7 – 49
McDonogh 14 0 6 8 – 28
McDonogh – McGriff 2 run (Lawrence kick)
DeMatha – English 2 run (Hood kick)
McDonogh – Simmons 65 pass from Thornes (Lawrence kick)
DeMatha – Spruill 3 run (Hood kick)
DeMatha – Spruill 2 run (Hood kick)
DeMatha – Lyles 31 pass from English (Hood kick)
DeMatha – Del.Hellams 33 pass from English (Hood kick)
DeMatha – Spruill 4 run (Hood kick)
McDonogh- Farrare 60 interception return (kick failed)
McDonogh – McGriff 1 run (Thornes pass from Ellis)
DeMatha – English 1 run (Hood kick)