A quality District public school vs. private school matchup between Eastern and Carroll ended in a melee that forced officials to call the game with 46 seconds left in the third quarter. Carroll was credited with a 36-20 win, and the game will not be continued.

The fight occurred after visiting Eastern attempted an onside kick. The Ramblers had just trimmed the Lions’ lead to 16 points on a six-yard touchdown reception by freshman wideout Asad Davenport.

The Ramblers’ Jose Delcid kicked the ball to around midfield, and players began to try to grab possession. After several seconds, the sideline referee whistled the play dead and signaled that the Lions had possession.

The players continued to scramble for the ball as the referees approached, but none of the referees attempted to physically stop the scrum and send the players to the sidelines. It’s unclear whether the players heard the whistle, but after about 45 seconds of attempting to gain possession a fight broke out between both sides.

The fight began between players who were on the field, but both sides eventually had players leave the sidelines. Punches were thrown for more than a minute.

“The referees created that whole melee,” Carroll Coach Rick Houchens said. “They left those kids on the ground for an extensive amount of time instead of just calling it. If you leave kids on the ground that long, they know whoever has the ball will get possession so they were fighting for the ball.”

When the melee ended, the referees met with the coaches and decided to call the game. Eastern Coach Jason Strickland and Athletic Director Patricia Briscoe both declined to comment. The Ramblers received an escort out of the stadium.

The referees, from the Washington District Football Officials Association, didn’t give out any suspensions after the game was called. But there was talk of ejections, according to Houchens.

“I’ve been coaching high school since 1997,” Houchens said. “In championship games and scrimmages, I have never seen something get out of control like that. I never blame anything on officials; they are human and they make mistakes. But this right here, that was definitely created by them.”

The game had 21 penalties for 190 yards. Lions junior Keon Singleton ran for 85 yards and one touchdown behind an offensive line that features blue-chip recruits Jauan Williams and Richard Merritt.

The Lions jumped out to a 16-point lead, but Eastern rallied to cut the deficit to two after a Jerome Johnson 98-yard touchdown run on a quarterback sneak with 2 minutes 27 seconds left in the first half. Carroll then scored 20 unanswered points before Davenport’s touchdown drew Eastern closer.

“I was real mad it ended because we still had a lot of time left,” Singleton said. “We could have done way more than we did.”