Friday was a difficult day in and around the DeMatha Catholic family, Stags football Coach Elijah Brooks said.
News broke Thursday evening about an incident in which a handful of DeMatha players solicited prostitutes at a team hotel following their season opener in North Carolina. Five reserves were removed from the program.
The next day, seventh-ranked DeMatha was on the field, and the Stags responded well enough to hold off Calvert Hall, 23-14, at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.
“I think the boys did an outstanding job,” Brooks said. “It’s a true test to their character. We have a great group of guys and it was a tough day for the entire DeMatha community but I love how we stuck together and came out and got this victory.”
The Hyattsville private school did not make players available for postgame interviews.
After taking a 6-0 lead in to halftime, the Stags (2-0) opened up a 20-0 lead midway through the third quarter.
A four-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback John Lovett to running back Mark Allen and a one-yard plunge by sophomore Taiwan Deal gave DeMatha a three-score cushion with 6 minutes 57 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
But Calvert Hall (2-1), the Baltimore Sun’s second-ranked team, chipped away at the advantage. Just more than two minutes after Deal’s touchdown, the Cardinals pulled within striking distance when quarterback Colar Kuhns hit Kyle Levere for an 11-yard touchdown. A DeMatha turnover inside the Calvert Hall 10-yard line set up yet another score, a one-yard sneak by Kuhns with 9:07 remaining.
DeMatha’s ensuing drive stalled at its own 36-yard line, but the Stags called for a fake punt on fourth and six, and senior punter Drew Holmes found freshman Tino Ellis for 20 yards to keep the drive alive.
“It was one of those things where if you got it in, hey, you’ve got to roll the dice sometimes,” Brooks said. “Thankfully it worked for us this time.”
Allen broke off a 34-yard run three plays later to set up first and goal at the one-yard line. And though Calvert Hall would hold DeMatha to a 20-yard field goal, the time taken off the clock and the nine-point cushion would be enough for the Stags to survive and end a turbulent day with a win.
“The biggest thing is, I just said [to the team], ‘Guys, just be true to yourselves, we understand what this program is about: high integrity,’ ” Brooks said. “And I know what’s being thrown out there, but our boys and the DeMatha community, we know what we’re all about.”