Good Counsel 31, DeMatha 21

Good Counsel's lead had shrunk to seven points early in the fourth quarter, and top-ranked DeMatha's comeback bid appeared to be gaining momentum. But the Falcons answered with a dominating, 14-play, eight-minute drive that was kept alive by a gutsy fake punt call, and was capped by a field goal by Carwan Karim.

The junior place kicker's 28-yarder with three minutes remaining sealed No. 2 Good Counsel's 31-21 victory over the Stags, who saw their 17-game game winning streak halted in front of about 5,500 spectators in Wheaton yesterday.

"I'm just so proud of my team," said Good Counsel Coach Bob Milloy, who earned his first victory over the Stags in four tries. "We probably will have to play them again [in the playoffs]. So all we really did tonight was make them mad. But we'll still enjoy this."

Good Counsel, which got key scores from Reggie Gooch (32-yard fumble return in the second quarter) and Tyrell Jones (70-yard punt return in the third quarter), improved to 7-0, 4-0 in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference and earned its first victory over the Stags since 1996. DeMatha, meantime, fell to 5-1, 3-1, suffering its first loss since the conference final in 2002.

After DeMatha pulled within 28-21 on a three-yard run by Jeff Allen with 11 minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Good Counsel put together its decisive, clock-gobbling drive that, in effect, ended the game. The drive was kept alive by a fake punt on a fourth and nine when the ball was snapped to Stephen Fritz-Claggett, who was positioned about five yards behind the line of scrimmage and scampered 30 yards to the DeMatha 34.

"I didn't expect that," said Good Counsel wide receiver Drew Gloster (seven receptions for 67 yards). "I was standing on the sideline shocked at that call. That was the biggest play of the game."

The Stags were plagued in the second half by turnovers and penalties. DeMatha lost its third fumble of the game midway through the fourth quarter, and a personal foul on DeMatha moments later led directly to another Good Counsel score, a four-yard run by senior Jerron Pearson (26 carries for 114 yards and two touchdowns), who put the Falcons ahead 21-14 with 6:11 remaining in the third quarter.

Exactly three minutes later, Good Counsel's Jones returned a punt from his 30-yard line to stake the Falcons to a 28-14 advantage.

But DeMatha wasn't done. The Stags' Leonard Wright blocked a punt that ricocheted out of bounds at the Good Counsel 11. Two plays later, Allen scored from three yards to trim the Stags' deficit to 28-21 with 11 minutes to play. But the Stags didn't get the ball back until there was less than three minutes remaining.

Good Counsel running back Jerron Pearson (2) finds himself in a foot race with DeMatha linebacker Kevin Jackson. Pearson had 114 yards and two touchdowns in the second-ranked Falcons' victory.