As he and his Gonzaga teammates ran back toward the field, still in awe of what had just transpired, still amped from the rowdy, purple-clad fans roaring their approval, Max Fisher plopped down onto the track. There, under the bright lights rolled into Hyattsville by ESPN for Friday’s football matchup with nationally ranked rival DeMatha, Fisher made a snow angel on the track.
The wintry celebration was fitting for this fall night, one on which the No. 15 Eagles knocked down the No. 1 Stags, 24-14, and beat their bigger, faster foe at its own game.
“Oh man, this feels great,” said Fisher, who had four catches for 75 yards and a score. “Nobody outside of us thought we could do this. All week, we talked about starting strong and finishing strong.”
The first goal did not go exactly as planned. On DeMatha’s first play from scrimmage, Lorenzo Harrison bounced a run to the outside, cut back twice to the middle of the field and dashed for a 93-yard touchdown.
But as Gonzaga (7-0, 4-0 Washington Catholic Athletic Conference) lined up to start the second quarter, it went back to its lone spark of the opening minutes: Fisher. On the previous series, the junior had jumped over the defender draping him near the sideline and reeled in an acrobatic catch for a 36-yard gain. When the Eagles went back to Fisher across the middle, he again shook off a defender and scored on a 35-yard catch to tie the game.
“We’ve got playmakers,” Gonzaga running back Tyree Randolph said. “We just had to make plays by sticking to the fundamentals.”
That message emanated from Randolph’s hard-nosed play. Despite giving up a fair share of inches and pounds to the Stags linemen awaiting him, the 5-foot-7 junior powered forward, moving the chains for many of Gonzaga’s 17 first downs in the first half and putting the Eagles ahead for good with touchdown runs of one and three yards.
Meanwhile, DeMatha (6-1, 3-1) was unable to shake its season-long struggle with penalties, stalling an offense that had scored at least 40 points in its previous three games.
The third of DeMatha’s five fumbles ended up in the hands of the Stags’ Tino Ellis, who finished off a 59-yard touchdown run to cut into Gonzaga’s lead entering the fourth. But with the memories still fresh from the teams’ last two meetings, when the Eagles’ halftime leads had vanished in defeat, Gonzaga’s defense responded. Two fumble recoveries and a sack in the final period completed the Eagles’ upset on the road and left them as the last undefeated team standing in the WCAC.