For DeMatha senior Matt Campbell, Sunday's Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship football game brought closure to not just his role in an intense rivalry, but also a chapter of his life.
Luckily for Campbell, a place kicker and one of the team's top receivers, he has played a major role in two of the team's most intense games. On Sunday, he caught 11 passes for 140 yards and made the game-clinching extra point in No. 3 DeMatha's 21-20 overtime win over Good Counsel at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.
"All I know is that I'm going to miss it," Campbell said. "I'm going to miss this rivalry, and every game we've played the last two years. I feel lucky to be a part of it."
In an intense, thrilling game, Campbell and quarterback Marc Poblador formed a key tandem in allowing the Stags come back from a 14-0 first-half deficit. He had receptions of 30 and 11 yards during a fourth-quarter drive that culminated in Kenny Tate's 12-yard touchdown run with 4 minutes 51 seconds left. Campbell tied the game with his extra point.
In overtime, Good Counsel scored on a 38-yard touchdown reception by Drew Gloster, but Good Counsel's extra point kick was slightly deflected, hit the left upright and landed in front of the goal posts, which are an NCAA-mandated 18 feet 6 inches apart -- about five feet narrower than high school goal posts.
After Tate scored again on a six-yard run to tie the game at 20, Campbell lined up for another big kick, and the Stags won.
"You try to block [the goal posts] out as much as you can during the game," Campbell said. "If you kick it straight through the middle though, it doesn't matter."
DeMatha (11-1) won its third consecutive WCAC crown, its fifth in six years and its 14th under 24-year coach Bill McGregor. Good Counsel (8-4) has never won a WCAC title, and has lost three straight games to DeMatha, all by one-point margins.
Good Counsel dominated for much of the first half as DeMatha's offense sputtered. DeMatha's only long play before the last minute of the half was a touchdown pass that was called back for an illegal chop block.
Late in the half, though, DeMatha finally came alive and picked up a key score. With 11 seconds left, Poblador (19 for 36, 226 yards) completed a three-yard pass to Kevin Jackson to cut the deficit to 14-7.
"I think getting that touchdown at the end of the first half helped us out a lot going into halftime," McGregor said.
In the second half, the team traded long but ultimately fruitless drives. DeMatha's 19-play, 80-yard, 7-minute drive stalled at the Good Counsel 4 and ended with a missed field goal. Good Counsel marched down the field for almost seven minutes until it faced fourth and inches at the 3. Instead of kicking a field goal, Good Counsel went for the first down. The Falcons ran the ball across the 3, but the running back fumbled the ball inches from the goal line. DeMatha recovered in the end zone.
Less than two minutes later, Tate scored his first touchdown and the game was tied at 14.