DeMatha 13, Good Counsel 11
After blowing a one-touchdown lead and falling behind by a point with less three minutes remaining last night, No. 8 DeMatha's two-year reign in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference hinged on its hurry-up offense, the arm of quarterback Ryan Mitch and the foot of kicker Pat Fisher.
The Stags' chances could not have been in better hands. With no timeouts left, Mitch directed his team down the field with six perfectly thrown passes, and Fisher booted a 36-yard field goal with 19 seconds remaining to lead DeMatha past Good Counsel, 13-11, in a breathtaking conference semifinal in Wheaton.
The victory puts two-time defending champion DeMatha (7-2) in its sixth consecutive final, where the Stags will face No. 4 Gonzaga (9-0) in a rematch of last year's championship. The game will likely be played on Sunday; however, a time and site will not be announced until today.
"That was as clutch a drive as I've ever seen in my 21 years at DeMatha," Stags Coach Bill McGregor said. "Even though we fell behind, we didn't stop believing because we have a great quarterback, exciting receivers and a very good kicker."
Good Counsel almost pulled off one of the school's biggest victories. Trailing 10-3 late in the fourth quarter, the Falcons scored when Stephen Salkeld (20 carries, 80 yards) took Reggie Gooch's shovel pass 21 yards with 2 minutes 44 seconds left, making the score 10-9.
Falcons Coach Bob Milloy went for the lead on a two-point conversion -- and it worked. Gooch pitched the ball to Devin McKnight (eight carries, 93 yards), who ran wide and scored virtually untouched to put Good Counsel (5-4) ahead 11-10.
"I'm very disappointed right now," Milloy said. "We were having trouble moving the ball all night, so we went for it. That was our chance to beat DeMatha. We didn't want to go for the tie, we wanted to go for the win."
With some in the crowd directing a chant of "Over-rated! Over-rated!" at the DeMatha bench, the Falcons seemed to be in control. But they left Mitch too much time.
Good Counsel's squib kick was covered by DeMatha at its 32-yard line. Mitch promptly completed passes to Josh Wilson, Erroll Henry and Eric Lively to put the ball at the Good Counsel 48-yard line with 1:35 left.
"I don't even remember those final minutes," said Mitch, who tossed a 55-yard touchdown pass to Wilson early in the game. "I just knew I didn't want my high school career to end that way."
Moments later, Mitch (8 of 14, 116 yards) zipped a pair of passes to Wilson, the second of which went for 27 yards and put the Stags on the Good Counsel 18-yard line with 44 seconds left. Mitch stopped the clock by spiking the ball, and the Stags lined up for a 35-yard field goal on second down. But they were called for delay of game, and Mitch had to compete a four-yard pass to Lively to put the ball back on the 19.
After Mitch spiked the ball again, Fisher entered and calmly split the uprights.
"Making a kick like that is something you dream about," Fisher said of his first game-winner. "And you just hope you get called on."