So after a lower leg injury suffered last week kept Beckford in street clothes and a walking boot for Saturday’s game at Landon, the Maroon had a lot of offensive production to account for against the defending IAC champion Bears.
Thanks to big plays from wide receiver Brian Chase and 101 tough yards from junior Eric Smith — getting his first varsity start in the backfield — the Maroon (3-1) found enough of those lost yards to earn a 30-21 win over Landon (1-3).
“We prepared for [not having them] all week in practice,” Chase said team, which was also missing two offensive linemen because of injuries. “Every guy that stepped up, they were ready to play in place of the starters, so we felt ready.”
Chase assumed Beckford’s playmaking role, racking up 195 yards and three touchdowns on four plays. The touchdowns came on a screen pass from quarterback Will Hollister that went for 53 yards, a 44-yard reception on a deep ball from Hollister and an 84-yard kickoff return.
“He’s explosive. He’s had a few long plays already this season, at least one in each game,” Episcopal Coach Panos Voulgaris said. “As soon as he gets in the open field, he can go. He puts his foot on the gas, and he’s gone.”
Smith took some big hits as he tried to fill Beckford’s big shoes, but also did his part to make sure Episcopal’s offense showed no evidence of its missing cogs.
“He did great. It was tough stepping in how he did behind Nigel,” Hollister said. “Because Nigel’s there, he hasn’t gotten any reps all year. He stepped up. . . . He had a good week of practice and came out and ran hard.”
Voulgaris said the Maroon offense adopted a more balanced attack in Beckford’s absence, and Hollister made sure the aerial component held up its end of the bargain. The senior completed 10 of 17 passes for 276 yards and three touchdowns.
On a hot, humid afternoon in Bethesda, the banged-up Maroon hung on to withstand a second-half charge from the Bears, who cut a 23-7 halftime deficit to 23-21 with seven minutes to play. But Episcopal’s offense found the drive-extending yards and insurance touchdown it needed.
“We knew today would be a full 48 minutes. It changes things [not having Beckford], because he’s that guy who can make something out of nothing,” said Voulgaris, who wouldn’t confirm Beckford’s exact injury but said he’s unsure of when or if the senior will return this season. “Now it’s just a matter of having 11 people do their job every single play. ”