It was just the Winston Churchill High football team’s second win of the season, but beating crosstown rival Walt Whitman in come-from-behind fashion, 21-7, meant more than meets the eye.
Given the teams’ recent history, the Bulldogs (2-0) had extra reason to celebrate. In 2009, Whitman (1-1) came from behind to defeat Churchill in Potomac in the final game of the season to knock the Bulldogs out of playoff contention. Its win was Churchill’s first over Whitman since 2008.
“It was a big deal for us,” Bulldogs senior quarterback Lansana Keita said. “We saw them come back on us; we knew we could come back on them.”
Keita completed 4-of-13 pass attempts for 89 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 22 yards on 4 carries.
Four consecutive days of rain kept both teams off the practice fields all week, and it showed. Neither team played its best, but Churchill did a better job of capitalizing on Whitman’s mistakes. Whitman committed 80 yards worth of penalties compared to Churchill’s 65.
“They fumbled it and we had a chance to scoop it and score and didn’t, then they did it to us,” Whitman coach Jim Kuhn said. “Our offense did not do a good job and I attribute that to not being able to go through our offense. You can only do so much in the gym.”
After possessing the ball for more than 8 minutes to close the first quarter and failing to score on three chances from within 10 yards, Whitman finally took a 7-0 lead late in the second half on Michael Flack’s 9-yard quarterback keeper.
Flack finished with 55 rushing yards, but completed just 2 of 14 pass attempts for 25 yards with a pair of interceptions. Whitman’s go-to running back, Val Djidotor, rushed for 101 yards on 18 carries.
The Bulldogs broke through in the fifth minute of the second half. After recovering Whitman’s fumble off a punt snap in its own territory, the visitors struck one play later; Keita connected with junior Dominique Williams for a 43-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 7.
Each team fumbled the ball three times but Churchill recovered two of its own while Whitman only hung on to one.
An interception two plays later gave the Bulldogs the ball back near midfield. They took a 14-7 lead on Malik Harris’ 6-yard run and never lost the lead.
Churchill put the game out of reach, 21-7, when Val Djidotor’s fumble was recovered by Joe Nolan and taken in for a 15-yard touchdown.
“We don’t want to get overly hyped,” Keita said. “The past three years we’ve gone on an early run, then lost like the last three games. But we’ll keep this win in our back pocket for sure.”
Winston Churchill 21, Walt Whitman 7
Churchill (2-0) 0 0 7 14-21
Whitman (1-1) 0 7 0 0-7
W — Michael Flack 9 run (Alex Peterson kick)
C — Dominique Williams 43 pass from Lansana Keita (kick)
C — Malik Harris 6 run (kick)
C — Joe Nolan 15 fumble recovery (kick)
Rushing — C: Malik Harris 13-66; Lansana Keita 4-22. W: Val Djidotor 18-101; Michael Flack 15-55.
Passing — C: Lansana Keita 4-13-89. W: Michael Flack 2-14-25.
Receiving — C: Dominique Williams 2-49. W: Arselan Nejad 15.