By CHRIS McMANES — Power 5 conference recruiters had already seen enough of Marshawn Lloyd to know they want him on their team. But his toughness and explosiveness did not jibe with production.
Until last Friday night.
Lloyd rushed 25 times for a career-high 154 yards and scored all four of DeMatha’s touchdowns in the Stags’ 27-21 victory over Gonzaga at Wilson Stadium on Oct. 12. He punctuated the first triple-overtime game in DeMatha history with a 25-yard TD that launched his teammates into a joyous frenzy.
“As a staff and as a team, we knew he was due for a breakout performance,” Stags eight-year coach Elijah Brooks said. “And it couldn’t have come at a better time.”
Lloyd, a junior who missed nearly all of last season with two broken bones and who has been banged up this year, shed two would-be tacklers and carried an Eagle defender eight yards into the end zone on the game-winning play. He was quick to praise his offensive line for making him look so good.
“My line had been working hard for me and my teammates all game,” Lloyd said. “So, I said I’m going to keep doing what I do and follow them. When I was able to get through, man, it felt great.”
Playing their first Washington Catholic Athletic Conference game of the season, the Stags won their fifth straight to improve to 5-1. Gonzaga fell to 6-2 after dropping its second straight WCAC contest.
Brooks cautioned his team not to get too carried away with the win. The top four teams in the WCAC Capital Division, including unbeaten St. John’s and DeMatha’s next opponent, Good Counsel, are essentially playing a round robin for seeding in the league playoffs.
The top two teams get first-round home games.
“We beat a great Gonzaga team that we’ll probably see again [this season],” Brooks said. “We’re basically playing for [playoff] position.”
Alabama recruit DeMarcco Hellams put DeMatha in position to win when he intercepted Eagles quarterback Caleb Williams in the end zone. One of three Stags’ interceptions, it highlighted a stellar defensive performance against a high-scoring opponent.
“Our defense has been playing well all year,” Brooks said. “They’ve been doing a great job against the run. Holding an explosive offense like Gonzaga’s to only seven points through regulation says a lot about the talent we have on defense.”
Gonzaga was in excellent position to score its third overtime TD when it had a first-and-goal at the 2. A false start pushed the ball back to the 7. Williams was held to no gain on the ensuring play and then threw his third pick. Lloyd scored on the next snap to put an end to the nearly three-hour contest.
The Eagles went 80 yards on their opening drive to take a 7-0 lead when Williams found a wide-open Sam Sweeney for a 4-yard TD. Williams and Aaron Turner set up the score when they connected on a 53-yard catch-and-run down the left sideline.
The Stags tied it midway through the second quarter when Lloyd scored from 5 yards. DeMatha quarterback Eric Najarian completed two big pass plays on the drive, the first for 13 yards to Jermaine Johnson. Dominic Logan-Nealy’s 23-yard reception preceded Lloyd’s TD.
Gonzaga was marching toward a potential game-winning field goal when it reached the Stags’ 33. A holding penalty moved the ball back to the 44, and Hellams disrupted a pass intended for John Marshall. On the final play of regulation, Williams was picked off by Florida State recruit Nick Cross.
DeMatha won the overtime coin toss and elected to take the ball second. The Eagles, starting on the Stags’ 25, bogged down at the 19 before senior placekicker Marco Kemp missed a 36-yard attempt wide right.
Gonzaga got new life when DeMatha was penalized and scored two plays later on Williams’ nine-yard run. DeMatha tied the game at 14 on Lloyd’s 4-yard scamper.
The Stags began the second overtime with Najarian being sacked for a three-yard loss. Lloyd ran for eight yards and, on third-and-five, Najarian found Johnson for an 11-yard pickup to the 9.
Lloyd, who is being courted by, among others, Penn State, Alabama, Maryland and Georgia, scored on the ensuing play by bursting over the left side. Gonzaga’s Tre McGuire caught him, but the 210-pound Lloyd spun him to the turf.
The Eagles, who began to rely more on Williams’ legs in the fourth quarter, got five yards rushing from their sophomore quarterback after he threw incomplete under heavy pressure on first down. DeMatha defensive lineman Ian Froble sacked Williams for a three-yard loss, bringing up fourth-and-eight from the 23.
Williams, a powerfully built 6-foot, 190-pounder, got a new set of downs on a nine-yard completion to wide-open Wisconsin recruit Dean Engram. Williams ran it in on the next play for a 14-yard TD.
Gonzaga took possession to start the third overtime and was looking at third-and-10 following two Williams’ incompletions, including a pass breakup by senior DB Joshua Wallace. Cross had an interception negated by a Stags’ holding call, giving the Eagles a first down on the 15.
Four plays later, Hellams intercepted Williams, and DeMatha turned to its stud running back Lloyd to end the game at 9:59 p.m. After rushing for 61 yards on 15 attempts in the first half, Lloyd averaged 9.3 yards per carry after the break.
In his postgame remarks to the media, Lloyd remembered Jaylen Brown, the former Stag who lost his life Oct. 4: “I wanted to make sure we won this game for Jaylen.”
Like Lloyd, Brooks spread the credit for his star runner’s performance. He is pleased with the development of his offensive line, which lost arguably its best player, 6-3, 305-pound junior Jordan White in the season opener.
“It’s been tough for our line up front,” Brooks said. “We haven’t had the consistency we’ve had in past years. It’s been a lot of moving guys around and a lot of improvement from week to week.
“It was good to see us take strides in the right direction getting into league play and putting together that type of performance on the ground.”
Washington Post Top 20
Top-ranked St. John’s downed No. 2 Good Counsel, 31-10, in a nationally televised game Friday night at Catholic University. St. John’s (7-0), ranked third nationally in MaxPreps’ XCellent 25, is off until playing at DeMatha on Oct. 26.
The Stags moved up two spots to No. 5 and will play at Good Counsel on Friday at 7 p.m. The Falcons (5-2) held on to second despite losing to the Cadets.
Good Counsel opened WCAC play on Oct. 6 by rallying past host Gonzaga, 38-31. The Eagles fell one spot to No. 6 and will play at Bishop McNamara on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Ryken leads the metro
St. Mary’s Ryken (7-1) of Leonardtown leads the WCAC Metro Division and is ranked 20th by the Post. The Knights rolled past Bishop Ireton, 61-0. They are off this week before hosting Pope Paul VI on Oct. 26. Bishop O’Connell and Archbishop Carroll round out the Metro.
The Metro and Capital Divisions will stage separate four-team playoffs and crown its own champion. The title games are scheduled for the University of Maryland on the weekend of Nov. 17 and 18.
Former coach dies
Brad Garner, a former coach and equipment man for the Stags, died on Oct. 13. He was 71.
DeMatha Coach Elijah Brooks recalled Garner coaching the Stags’ freshman and JV teams during Brooks’ playing career (1998-2001). When Rick Peacock resigned as head JV coach to take the varsity reins at St. Vincent Pallotti in Laurel, Garner joined him for three seasons (2012-14). Garner returned to DeMatha and contributed to its 2015 and ’16 WCAC championships.
“When he came back on staff, he primarily took care of our equipment and did a lot of work behind the scenes,” Brooks said. “He was a good man who loved DeMatha and would do whatever was asked of him.”
Garner, a Vietnam veteran and former Prince George’s County police officer, continued to support the Stags. This past summer, he and Peacock made hot dogs for golfers at the DeMatha Football Golf Tournament.
Garner’s viewing is Thursday at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in College Park from 7 to 9 p.m. His funeral will be at the church Friday at 11 a.m.
The DeMatha varsity completed the Stags’ three-game sweep over Gonzaga last week. On Wednesday, the JV defeated the Eagles, 21-0. The following day, the freshman team won, 44-6.
The rookies are off to a 5-1 start and have a busy week. They play at Riverdale Baptist on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. On Saturday, they travel to Fairmount Heights for a 10 a.m. encounter.
Tommy Hill, a star player on St. Jerome’s 2017 and ’18 baseball championship teams, is a backup quarterback for the freshman.
The DeMatha JV (5-0) hosts Good Counsel (5-2) on Thursday at Heurich Field in Hyattsville at 4 p.m. Former St. Jerome multi-sport athlete Chase Williams is the Falcons’ starting quarterback. In his debut against Spalding on Aug. 28, he helped rally Good Counsel to a 27-14 victory.
Chris McManes (mick-maynz) has been covering DeMatha football since 2015.