Top-ranked DeMatha escapes from Friendship, 35-32

DeMatha overcame a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter to defeat Friendship Collegiate Academy, 35-32.
By Alan Goldenbach
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 12, 2010; 12:35 AM

As Friendship Collegiate enjoyed a 12-point lead on top-ranked DeMatha with less than eight minutes to play on Saturday, the packed stands at McNamara and the dozens of fans filling the track surrounding the football field all thought the same thing: Could this really happen?

On the DeMatha sideline, there was a different thought.

"This is DeMatha," senior running back Jacob Siwicki said. "What do you expect from us?"

Facing the possibility of its first loss to a Washington area team from outside of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference in 15 years, the Stags rallied, getting two touchdown runs from Siwicki in a 61-second span to erase the deficit and come away with a 35-32 victory.

As quickly as Friendship erased an eight-point halftime deficit with 20 consecutive third-quarter points, DeMatha snatched the game right back in the fourth quarter.

The Stags took a 20-12 lead on Michael Branthover's 49-yard field goal at the end of the first half, but they lost starting running back Delonte Morton to what DeMatha Coach Bill McGregor called a severe ankle sprain, which forced him from the field for X-rays.

DeMatha could not move the ball without its standout runner, amassing minus-2 yards combined on its first two second-half possessions. After the first, Friendship's Antonio Huff returned a punt 47 yards to the DeMatha 13, and Malcolm Crockett scored on the next play to make it 20-18.

DeMatha's next punt set up Friendship at its own 38. Crockett burst up the middle on first down for a 62-yard touchdown to give the Knights their first lead. The two-point conversion on a pass from Percy Goings to Larenzo Fisher made it 26-20.

DeMatha's next drive ended with a blocked 35-yard field goal, and Friendship drove 80 yards in eight plays, capped by a 25-yard pass from Goings to Huff on a post pattern that put him 10 yards from the nearest Stag. The two-point conversion failed, and Friendship led 32-20 with two minutes to go in the third quarter.

"In the third quarter," DeMatha senior quarterback Nikolay Uherek said, "we all saw that it was their game."

DeMatha drove downfield, but on first and goal, fumbled at the Friendship 4, which the Knights' Devin Mayo recovered. But Friendship couldn't advance, had to punt from its end zone and set up DeMatha at the Knights 18.

Siwicki took the handoff up the middle untouched for a touchdown. It was 32-27 with 7:49 left.

On the second play of Friendship's next possession, Michael F. Williams stripped a Knights running back at the 24-yard line, and Ta'Von Bailey returned it to the 6. Siwicki scored on the next play, stretching the ball across the goal line with 6:48 to play. Uherek hit Siwicki on a play-action pass for the two-point conversion to close the scoring.

"You expect some mistakes," Friendship Coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim said, "but you just hope they don't happen at critical times. We know we're close. We're a great team."

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