The seemingly impossible happened to third-ranked DeMatha in the first half last night, as a stubborn O'Connell team took advantage of three turnovers to take a 17-7 lead in the Metro Conference game at O'Connell.
But after a stern halftime talk from Coach Bill McGregor, the defending league champions came flying out of the locker room and rolled to a 42-17 victory at Arlington War Memorial Stadium, improving their record to 7-0 and their two-year winning streak to 17 games.
The key to the victory was two-fold. The Stags offensive line, which averages 240 pounds per man, dominated the line of scrimmage in the second half. This opened the floodgates for a barrage of DeMatha running backs to run through the Knights (3-4).
Senior tailback Dwayne Redd rushed for 192 yards and four touchdowns and when he got tired (he carried 23 times) sophomore tailback Bryce Bevill (110 yards) or senior fullback Phil Bryant (96 yards) more than picked up the slack.
The first of DeMatha's three turnovers came on the second play of the game, when quarterback Tracy Bergan's pass deflected off tight end Bubba Chroniger's hands into the arms of Knights defensive back Brian Moradita at DeMatha's 17-yard line.
Seven plays later, from the 8, Knights quarterback Matt Dwyer threw to running back Kevin Harrell in the end zone for a 7-0 lead. The Stags marched from their 8 to the Knights 38, but on first down, Bergan fumbled the snap and O'Connell's Tom Ehnach recovered.
O'Connell drove 34 yards before kicker Fred Ensign converted a 45-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead. Midway through the second quarter, DeMatha finally found its groove on offense, driving 70 yards. The drive culminated with a four-yard touchdown run by Redd, who finished the first half with 89 yards rushing.
But the most exciting play of the half came with about two minutes remaining. Faced with a third-and-11 from his 29, Dwyer connected with John Anderson for a 71-yard touchdown pass. DeMatha (7-0) 0 7 14 21 42 O'Connell (3-4) 10 7 0 0 17
O -- Harrell 15 pass from Dwyer (Ensign kick)
O -- FG Ensign 45
D -- Redd 4 run (Moore kick)
O -- Anderson 71 pass from Dwyer (Ensign kick)
D -- Redd 7 run (Moore kick)
D -- Redd 1 run (Moore kick)
D -- Redd 3 run (Moore kick)
D -- Bryant 1 run (Moore kick)
D -- Church 25 pass from Bergan (Moore kick)