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Coker Finds a Hole, Stags Find a Way

By Josh Barr
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 10, 2009

With the seconds ticking off the clock, the Washington area's leading rusher ran to the right and raced through a hole in the defense. And when Marcus Coker crossed the goal line 64 yards later, top-ranked DeMatha could celebrate another dramatic victory in its series with second-ranked Good Counsel.

Coker scored three times in the fourth quarter, none more stunning than his game-winning jaunt with 1 minute 7 seconds left that lifted the Stags to a 24-21 victory before 4,500 Friday night at Prince George's Sports and Learning Center.

"It was a huge hole," said Coker, who finished with 213 yards on 25 carries. "The fullback [Austin Bailey] led me through, and there was daylight ahead."

It was a thrilling finish to a game that Good Counsel (5-1, 2-1 Washington Catholic Athletic Conference) dominated much of the way.

Quarterback Zach Dancel rushed for one touchdown and passed for another score, and running back Wes Brown rushed for 107 yards and one touchdown. Entering the fourth quarter, the Falcons led 21-3 in a game that at that point resembled their 42-21 victory in the teams' regular season meeting a year ago.

This time, however, DeMatha (6-0, 3-0) had an answer. On third and eight early in the fourth quarter, Coker broke two tackles for a 17-yard touchdown and DeMatha got within 21-10.

Then Michael Coley recovered a Good Counsel fumble, and on the next play, Coker (1,279 yards, 17 touchdowns this season) bounced to the left, shedding would-be tacklers and scooting down the sideline for a 37-yard touchdown. It was 21-17 with nine minutes left.

Good Counsel methodically moved down the field, converting three third downs. But a quarterback sneak on fourth and one was stuffed, and DeMatha took over on its 15 with 2:35 remaining.

Coker carried twice for 14 yards, and a seven-yard completion to Austin Bailey left the Stags with third and three from their 36. Seeking a new set of downs, Coker got the ball. Then the hole opened up, and DeMatha's rally was complete.

"That's the first time we've had our backs to the wall all year," said DeMatha Coach Bill McGregor, adding it was the largest deficit one of his teams had overcome in the fourth quarter. "That's when you see what you're made out of."

On the other side, while Good Counsel had found yet another excruciating way to lose to DeMatha -- the Stags' comebacks in the series have included several last-second scores -- the Falcons were looking forward to a potential rematch in the league championship game. The teams have met in that game the past five years, with DeMatha winning each time.

"It's a tough loss, and Coker is a heck of a running back," Good Counsel wide receiver-cornerback Louis Young said. "We've got to learn from this mistake. We got lazy on tackling and weren't wrapping up, just hitting. It's a tough loss, but we're looking at it as a scrimmage. We'll play them twice. I'll take the loss right now."

No. 1 DeMatha 24, No. 2 Good Counsel 21 Racking Up Yardage: With 213 yards on 25 carries, it was Marcus Coker's fifth 100-yard game this season and his third with at least 200 yards. When It Matters Most: Coker gained 132 yards on five carries -- scoring three touchdowns -- in the fourth quarter.

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