Passing attack helps No. 1 Stags roll
Wearing a DeMatha jacket, a Maryland beanie, an Ugg booton his left foot and a plastic bag covering the walking boot on his right foot, Darryl Turner Jr. stood on the sideline and leaned on his crutches, as he had all game.
Next to him stood Kellon Taylor, who was chatting with the injured wide receiver about the touchdown pass he pulled down minutes earlier on the Stags’ first possession of the third quarter.
The two might not have realized it then— as they were laughing about the impressive reception, on which Taylor used every inch of his 6-foot-5 frame to come away with the 20-yard score— but the Stags had finally cracked St. John’s defense. After taking a one-score lead into intermission, No. 1 DeMatha poured it on in the second half and came away with a resounding 40-0 victory over No. 7 St. John’s on a rainy Saturday afternoon in Northwest Washington.
“We just came out and played DeMatha football,” Taylor said. “The first half, including myself, we fed into all the talking, but the second half we played DeMatha football. We blew them out like we knew we could.”
Taylor had 115 receiving yards on six catches for the Stags (5-0, 2-0Washington Catholic Athletic Conference), none bigger than his grab that gave the Hyattsville school a 12-0 lead in the third quarter. The senior is part of a revamped receiving corps that hasn’t missed a beat since Turner, a Maryland recruit, fractured his tibia in the season opener.
“Really it just motivates us more. We knew we had to step up for him because really he was a big, key part of our offense,” Taylor said. “So everyone stepped up big time. Everyone’s just stepping up a lot.
With Beau English under center, DeMatha was able to get what it wanted, when it wanted in the passing game. The junior finished with 312 passing yards, completing 14 of his 21 attempts and making the most of those completions. The Stags’ lone first-half touchdown came on a 79-yard pass from English to junior Anthony McFarland, who used his speed to break through the Cadets’ secondary and march in for the score.
The Cadets (3-2, 1-1) struggled to get going against DeMatha’s stingy defense. Nursing an ankle injury, quarterback Talik Mann didn’t start the game but entered in the second quarter, replacing Maurice Bellan. The offense came alive with the 6-2 senior under center, albeit briefly. After consecutive first-down completions to Aaron Hansford, Mann threw a pass into the hands of Tino Ellis, whose interception negated the Cadets’ red-zone opportunity and kept the Stags’ shutout alive.
That’s about as close as St. John’s would get to cracking the DeMatha defense. Ellis came away with another interception on the Cadets’ first possession of the third quarter and the Stags capitalized with a touchdown run from Khory Spruill. Lorenzo Harrison, who had 98 rushing yards, tacked on another touchdown, and the Stags added another when Ellis blocked a punt that landed in the hands of Marquis Brown, who marched into the end zone.
When the final whistle sounded, the Stags ran toward their fan section and the celebration began. The winning streak over their WCAC rival that dates back to 1994 — before any of the current players were born — would live on.
“It feels awesome because the guys were talking a lot of stuff this week on Twitter, social media and everything. That madness,” Ellis said. “But we got the job done and next is McNamara.”
DeMatha wideout Kellon Taylor beats St. John’s defensive back Aaron Brown to gain a first down.