Good Counsel wins big one

Good Counsel's Stefon Diggs had three interceptions as the Falcons rallied to beat St. Xavier before 7,500 in a game that aired on ESPN.
Good Counsel's Stefon Diggs had three interceptions as the Falcons rallied to beat St. Xavier before 7,500 in a game that aired on ESPN. (Brian Jorg For The)
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By Josh Barr
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 30, 2010

CINCINNATI - As top-ranked Good Counsel faced fourth and 12 and called a timeout to discuss strategy while trailing early in the final quarter, there was little question who the Falcons would look toward for a game-changing play.

The offense had sputtered repeatedly in its high-profile season opener against one of Ohio's elite teams. If Good Counsel was going to make a play, junior wide receiver Stefon Diggs was going to be the player to make it happen.

Diggs caught a 21-yard pass in traffic from quarterback Zach Dancel and two plays later sophomore running back Dorian O'Daniel scored on a three-yard run that propelled the Falcons to a 21-6 victory over host St. Xavier on Sunday before a crowd of 7,500.

Diggs then added two of his three interceptions in the final nine minutes, returning the last one 50 yards for a game-clinching touchdown as Good Counsel earned one of the biggest victories ever for a Washington-area team against outside competition. Perhaps the last victory of similar significance for a local team was DeMatha's 1990 triumph over Brockton (Mass.).

"It was a lot of fun and a thrill to be on television and win," Good Counsel Coach Bob Milloy said. "But we played so awful on offense. That's not the way we normally play. But they had something to do with that."

Indeed, the Falcons struggled mightily on offense, even before starting running back Wes Brown was sidelined by a leg injury late in the first half. Five times they punted after failing to get a first down. Despite a veteran line, the running game mustered 71 yards.

Diggs had been beaten on a long pass that led to St. Xavier's touchdown on its opening series, then each team had a touchdown negated by a penalty. The Bombers' defense, led by standout linebacker Steven Daniels, was particularly stout, as Good Counsel failed to score despite forcing four turnovers in the first three quarters.

So when the Falcons had fourth and 12 from the St. Xavier 25-yard line early in the fourth quarter, it was easy to see the desperation of a team clinging to hopes that it could finally make a play on offense. Breaking the huddle, Dancel noticed that the defense was playing a zone coverage and thought Diggs should be able to get open.

"That was a huge play," Dancel said. "Once that happened, they got their heads down and we had them."

That was just one of many big plays for Diggs, who missed half of last season while working on his grades even though he was eligible to play, according to Milloy and school officials. Four of his five catches (totaling 91 yards) went for first downs. Twice he blitzed and sacked the quarterback, one time forcing a fumble that teammate Michael Jefferson recovered. On his first interception, Diggs lateraled to Brown, whose subsequent 70-yard touchdown weave was called back because of a clipping penalty.

"He's a talent, our game plan is to get him the ball 10 to 12 times a game," Milloy said. "We didn't give up on that and finally he comes through."

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