As he crossed the goal line one more time, DeMatha running back Pat Mealy dropped the ball and decelerated. The senior raised his left hand in the air and could have extended all five fingers -- one for each of his touchdowns yesterday afternoon -- but instead merely raised one before turning around to hug offensive lineman Anthony Nelson.

Often running through gaping holes created by his line but also breaking tackles when needed, Mealy set career highs with 30 carries for 236 yards to lead the fourth-ranked Stags to a 34-7 victory over rival Gonzaga in a Washington Catholic Athletic Conference game before a crowd of 2,000 at Parkdale High in Riverdale.

Mealy had three 12-yard touchdown runs, a one-yard plunge that made it 21-0 in the second quarter and a 37-yard score on the first play of the fourth quarter. His career performance could have been even better, except that with a 34-7 lead at that point, Coach Bill McGregor began to substitute and Mealy's day was complete.

"He's a hard-nosed back," Gonzaga Coach Kenny Lucas said. "It was no secret coming into the game. We knew what he was going to give us."

No matter how much the Eagles (5-2, 3-1) focused on Mealy, he continued to gain yardage. He bounced to the right and dived for the pylon to score his first touchdown and, after a Gonzaga punt, went up the middle through a big hole for his second 12-yard score and a 14-0 lead late in the first quarter.

After halftime, DeMatha (6-1, 4-0) put together consecutive seven-play scoring drives, with Mealy carrying on all but one play each series. Another 12-yard score made it 28-7, and then he went 37 yards untouched, getting through a hole to the left and outrunning defenders to the end zone.

"It's pretty easy when you have that" big hole to run through, said Mealy, who has 1,066 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns this season. He previously had not carried more than 19 times in a game, but seemed to have no problem with yesterday's additional workload.

"When you have a player like that, you're going to use him," McGregor said.

With its fifth consecutive victory, DeMatha positioned itself for a Nov. 5 game against Good Counsel that likely will determine first place in the league and the top seed in the WCAC playoffs.

"We're getting better, but we still have a long way to go," McGregor said. "I know we're going to look at the film tomorrow morning and find umpteen mistakes. But I thought this was a real good showing."

Even Gonzaga's Eamon Hanifin (55) takes his hat off as DeMatha's Pat Mealy rushes for 236 yards and five touchdowns. "He's a hard-nosed back," said Gonzaga's coach of Mealy.