Premier running back returns, helps DeMatha qualify for playoffs

DeMatha running back Marshawn Lloyd rushed for 80 yards and two touchdowns in the Stags' 50-0 win over Carroll. Lloyd was playing for the first time since Aug. 25. Photo courtesy of Ed King

BY CHRIS MCMANES — Marshawn Lloyd returned to the DeMatha lineup Saturday. His timing couldn’t be better.

Lloyd, who missed the Stags previous eight games with injury, rushed for 80 yards on 11 carries and scored two touchdowns to help lead the Stags to a 50-0 victory over Archbishop Carroll in Northeast Washington.

With the win, DeMatha grabbed the fourth seed in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference playoffs. The No. 13 Stags (6-4, 2-3 WCAC) will play at second-ranked St. John’s (7-2, 5-0) on Nov. 11 at 1 p.m.

“It felt good being back with my brothers,” Lloyd said. “Going to the playoffs to play St. John’s again feels great.”

DeMatha quarterback Eric Najarian was 9-of-10 passing for 126 yards. He threw touchdown passes of 42 and 37 yards to sophomore Joshua Dodd. On the second one, Dodd broke some tackles to make it 29-0 with four seconds to go in the first quarter.

Lloyd had a 12-yard run on DeMatha’s opening possession and scored from a yard out. Before halftime, he added a 50-yard scoring jaunt. The sophomore started left before breaking to the right and outrunning Lion defenders into the end zone. The play typifies Lloyd’s breakaway ability.

“They were biting off the outside, so I faked them a little bit,” Lloyd said. “I set it up and then I just hit the right side and down the sideline.”

Stags Coach Elijah Brooks said he was “very happy” to see Lloyd return.

“He’s a difference-maker who gives us what we haven’t had back there, someone who can take it the distance on any given play,” Brooks said.

Lloyd also caught two passes for 9 yards, including a one-handed grab, and did not play in the second half. He missed the bulk of DeMatha’s season to allow two broken bones in his left arm to heal.

“It was good for him to get this game under his belt to get some of the rust off,” Brooks said. “I think he’ll be even better going into next week.”

The Stags rushed for 205 yards. Miles Miree had 58, and freshman Sieh Bangura 41. Both scored a TD. Defensively, DeMatha made four interceptions and held Carroll to 66 yards and three first downs.

Brooks was asked how his team is different than the one that lost three straight before winning Oct. 28 at McNamara, 49-6.

“We’re winning a lot of matchups everywhere on the field, and guys are making those plays that DeMatha is accustomed to making,” he said. “We’re getting off the field on third and fourth down defensively, and we’re moving the chains on third and fourth down offensively. And not turning the ball over. Those are all the keys to victory.”

Lloyd dressed but didn’t play in the Stags’ 38-22 loss at St. John’s on Oct. 21.

“We know what we’re capable of doing,” he said. “We want to show people what DeMatha can really do.”

Mr. Takeaway – Stags sophomore Harold Peters recovered a fumble against Carroll and had two interceptions. He returned the picks 18 and 27 yards. He turned the fumble into a 20-yard touchdown. Peters also plays on the Stags lacrosse team.

Senior memory – Based on the reaction of his teammates, you might have thought DeMatha senior Brandon Dula had just made a game-saving play. Dula, who sees little action, came up with an interception on the final play of the game. His fellow Stags rushed the field to congratulate him.

Top 10 battle – Good Counsel, ranked sixth in The Washington Post Top 20, will host No. 9 Gonzaga (7-3, 3-2) in the other WCAC semifinal. Kickoff is 7 p.m. Friday in Olney. The winners will meet for the WCAC championship Nov. 18 at the University of Maryland.

Good Counsel (8-2, 4-1) defeated the Purple Eagles, 27-7, on Oct. 27.

Keys to victory – Kevin Doyle played a major role in St. John’s regular-season victory over DeMatha. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound senior, who has committed to play at Michigan, was 22 of 33 for 266 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. The Stags flushed him out of the pocket on several occasions, but seldom sacked him.

“We’re going to have to contain Doyle, who’s had a great season,” DeMatha Coach Elijah Brooks said. “So, our pass coverage has to be a lot better. And when we get the chance to get [Doyle] on the ground, we’re going to have to do that.”

What else will it take for the Stags to win?

“We’re going to have to make big-time plays,” Brooks said. “If we get a chance to bust a run, we have to do it.”

St. John’s a ‘better team’ – Doyle, a transfer student playing his only season at St. John’s, wasn’t around here during the Cadets’ 23-year losing streak to DeMatha. So, he said he harbored no mental barriers to beating the Stags. He added that the string of losses was not a major concern to him and his teammates.

“No, not really,” Doyle said on the field after ending the streak. “I mean, outsiders [talked about it] but inside we said, ‘Hey, it’s another game,’ honestly, because we’re a better team. We’ve played better teams than DeMatha. We beat better teams than DeMatha, and we’ve come close to beating other teams than DeMatha. …

“Playing DeMatha was not anything I was afraid of, nothing anybody else was afraid of because we’re a different breed now. We understood. We’re the new guys in town.”

Chris McManes (mick-maynz) covers DeMatha football for the Hyattsville Life & Times.