DeMatha Catholic High School senior quarterback John Lovett had his team scoring at will in the second half, but to knock off the four-time defending Washington Catholic Athletic Conference champions — Our Lady of Good Counsel — the offense needed a little help.
In the final play of the game, they got it.
Facing a do-or-die two-point conversion in overtime, DeMatha's defense forced an incomplete pass by Good Counsel quarterback Andres Castillo and secured a 29-28 overtime victory in the WCAC football semifinals at Byrd Stadium in College Park.
“I had confidence and faith in my defense and closed my eyes for that one,” Lovett said. “Once I heard our crowd go crazy, I knew it was over.”
Lovett completed 16 of 25 passes for 264 yards and three touchdowns — all in the second half and overtime. DeMatha was held scoreless until Lovett's 8-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Cameron Phillips late in the third quarter. After ending the shutout, the offense had little trouble putting points on the board.
“We had to open it up a little bit more and our guys made plays down the stretch,” DeMatha coach Elijah Brooks said.
Fourth-seeded Good Counsel (6-5) led 22-15 against top-seeded DeMatha (10-1) with 2 minutes and 33 seconds remaining in regulation following Castillo's 52-yard touchdown to Myles Robinson on a fourth-and-long play.
It took only a few plays in the ensuing possession for Lovett to drive his team to Good Counsel's red zone. Senior Taiwan Deal's 3-yard rushing touchdown capped off the minute-long drive and the teams went into overtime tied 22-22.
“We kept faith in each other. We had been doing well our last couple drives so we just kept our heads in it, and pulled it out,” Phillips said.
DeMatha's first play from scrimmage in the extra period was a 25-yard touchdown pass from Lovett to Phillips — their third touchdown of the game.
“John [Lovett] and Cam [Phillips] have been doing a good job. Chris Jones made some plays, Tino Ellis made some plays — it was a great all around effort by everyone,” Brooks said.
Good Counsel senior Chris Dawson ran for a 1-yard touchdown the next possession but the Falcons' two-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful.
“We wanted it. And that's pretty much what it comes down to,” said Phillips, who had nine receptions for 120 yards.
DeMatha beat Good Counsel 21-0 in September, snapping a four-game losing streak against the Falcons that included a 26-14 loss in last season's WCAC championship game.
This win felt different, Lovett said.
“It's a one-game season, and now it's another one-game season. It was a great win,” Lovett said.
DeMatha advances to face St. John's College at 2 p.m. Saturday in WCAC title game at Byrd Stadium.
“We just got to take a deep breath and refocus for the remainder of the year,” Brooks said.
DeMatha 29, Good Counsel 28
Good Counsel (6-5) 0 8 0 14 6 — 28
DeMatha (10-1) 0 0 8 14 7 — 29
GC — Jonathan Wanat 29 run (Andres Castillo run)
D — Cameron Phillips 8 pass from John Lovett (John Lovett pass to Cameron Phillips)
GC — Andres Castillo 2 run (kick blocked)
D — Cameron Phillips 6 pass from John Lovett (Mac Burke kick)
GC — Myles Robinson 52 pass from Andres Castillo (Chris Dawson run)
D — Taiwan Deal 3 run (Mac Burke kick)
D — Cameron Phillips 25 pass from John Lovett (Mac Burke kick)
GC — Chris Dawson 1 run (pass failed)
DeMatha — Mark Allen 9-28, Lorenzo Harrison 6-17, Taiwan Deal 8-6, John Lovett 3-(-7).
Good Counsel — Chris Dawson 26-56, Jonathan Wanat 3-28, Perry Stefanelli 2-11, C.J. Carroll 2-6.
DeMatha — John Lovett 16-25-264-0.
Good Counsel — Andres Castillo 8-16-151-0.
DeMatha — Cameron Phillips 9-120, Chris Jones 4-96, Greyson Torain 1-35, Tino Ellis 2-13.
Good Counsel — Myles Robinson 3-75, Chris Dawson 1-45 , C.J. Carroll 1-15, Jonathan Wanat 1-10, John Prather 1-6.