With just less than seven minutes remaining Saturday, No. 5 DeMatha lined up for a fourth-and-goal play from the Gonzaga 1-yard line. The Stags had been stopped cold on the previous two plays less than three yards from the end zone and needed a score to have a chance at erasing their 17-point deficit.
DeMatha sophomore tailback Taiwan Deal took a hand-off and plunged forward, only to be met by a host of Gonzaga defenders. Together, the Eagles brought Deal to the ground short of the goal line and all but sealed what became a 27-10 Gonzaga victory over the visiting Stags.
“Getting down there to the three, it was just more will on their part, and that’s not a sign of a DeMatha team,” Stags Coach Elijah Brooks said. “So that’s definitely disappointing. We’ll rebound, and we’ll get better.”
The Eagles (7-2) have defeated DeMatha (7-2) on four straight occasions, a feat few area schools — if any — has accomplished. Had spectators stopped paying attention after a first quarter dominated by the Stags, few would have predicted a Gonzaga victory, much less the Eagles’ most convincing win over DeMatha in at least the past decade.
Deal – who finished with 109 yards on 16 carries – scored on a one-yard run on DeMatha’s opening possession. The Stags added a field goal on their second offensive series.
But Gonzaga got on the board with a field goal and caught DeMatha off guard when it attempted, and recovered, an onside kick.
DeMatha “had the momentum,” Gonzaga Coach Aaron Brady said. “So we thought, ‘Let’s take a shot at this thing.’ Because the thing about DeMatha is when they get it rolling, they’re tough. They’re big. They’re physical. We wanted to try to do something to break that.”
With just more than one minute remaining in the first half, Gonzaga senior cornerback Jaivon Gibbs recorded the first of his two interceptions. The Eagles embarked on a five-play, 54-yard drive that concluded with Schultz throwing an 11-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Scott Carpenter to push Gonzaga’s lead to 14 just before the intermission.
“We’ve just got a bunch of hard-working, regular guys, a great coaching staff,” said Schultz, who completed 14 of 23 passes for 166 yards and three touchdowns. “We all work hard and believe in each other. We just. . . . I don’t know what it is. It’s not luck; it’s just hard work, you know?”