On a day when No. 1 St. John’s and No. 4 DeMatha battled in a playoff game and packed it with enough drama for two, the teams’ emotions covered the spectrum.

In the end, St. John’s persisted at home and pulled through to win the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference semifinal, 34-20, but both teams dealt with a swirl of feelings, largely around one scary play in the second quarter when St. John’s running back Antwain Littleton sprung through a hole in the right side and into the open field.

DeMatha defensive back Cole Donaldson threw his body in the 270-pound Littleton’s path, took a knee to the lower back and stayed down. A dozen trainers and coaches swarmed him from both sides. They removed his helmet and jersey and looked at his back, neck and both legs. They strapped him to a stretcher and lifted him onto a cart, and then they let the DeMatha players gather around him.

Donaldson was loaded into an ambulance and driven to Washington Hospital Center, and the uneasiness lingered. Both teams gathered in full to say an Our Father prayer. DeMatha Coach Bill McGregor, who was about to head to the hospital to see Donaldson, said after the game that he wasn’t sure of the severity of the injury.

“It’s a lot bigger than football,” McGregor said. “It’s a great game to play — you just don’t want anybody to have any type of injury at all, and you don’t want anybody to have any type of serious injury.”

St. John’s scored four plays later to extend its lead to 17-0, but DeMatha fought back to within one score twice before the Cadets, invincible thus far in WCAC play, advanced to the championship game, where it will meet Good Counsel on Sunday at Catholic University.

Long after Saturday’s game ended, tensions boiled over in the parking lot at the Northwest Washington school. As crowds hung around outside the stadium, players from St. John’s and DeMatha argued back and forth. Soon, they were shouting, and finally both sides charged at each other with fists up, chasing around the parking lot.

Enough bystanders intervened to separate the players before anyone was hurt, but players and fans continued to jaw for several minutes. At least six Metropolitan police officers and game security guards stood between the St. John’s locker room and DeMatha bus until the bus pulled out of the parking lot.

The Cadets are moving on, as they continue to survive their demanding schedule. Littleton ran for two touchdowns, and the St. John’s defense managed three sacks and five tackles for loss on two late drives that could have allowed DeMatha back in the game.

“This team just knows how to bounce back,” St. John’s defensive lineman Taizse Johnson said. “This team knows that adversity is going to come with the game.”