HYATTSVILLE – After three years and several losses, all it finally took was an overtime period Friday night for the Good Counsel varsity football team to once again defeat its WCAC archrival DeMatha Stags at Marvin F. Wilson Stadium, 20-14.
A light drizzle fell during the course of the game, similar to the game on Oct. 3, 2014 when the Falcons last scored a win over DeMatha. The two final scores (three years earlier, it was 21-14) were almost identical.
This time, however, it wasn’t a quarterback sneak that won the game for Good Counsel and spoiled DeMatha’s Senior Day. It was junior running back Latrele Palmer and his gritty, hard-nosed running style. Palmer shoved his way through the DeMatha defense in overtime for the game-winning touchdown as the Falcons gleefully poured onto the field. Palmer was so fired up that he tore his helmet off as he and his teammates celebrated their hard-fought victory.
“We came in knowing it was going to be a dogfight and then we just came out and executed and won,” said Palmer. “We just needed the big play and I was the one who made it. It’s unbelievable. We haven’t beat these guys in a couple of years.”
Even though the Falcons got on the board first when a muffed punt led to a one-yard sneak by quarterback Kamerun Snell, costly penalties and fumbles gave the Stags the advantage.
DeMatha freshman running back Sieh Bangura rumbled past the Good Counsel defense and set the Stags up with first-and-goal at the five-yard line. Detrick Washington, a senior, capped off Bangura’s runs with a three-yard touchdown of his own to tie the game.
DeMatha appeared determined to keep the Falcons from scoring again as defenders drove Good Counsel backwards and Snell scrambled to make plays.
In fact, the constant pressure of the Stag defense forced five Good Counsel fumbles, one of which DeMatha recovered.
The game stayed knotted at 7 until halfway through the third quarter when DeMarcco Hellams caught quarterback Eric Najarian’s pass in stride and turned on the jets. Hellams ran diagonally to evade a Good Counsel defender en route to a 48-yard touchdown for the Stags’ first lead of the evening.
The Stags nursed their lead for the better part of the fourth quarter by continuously feeding Bangura the ball and eating valuable time off the clock.
The Good Counsel offense took the field one last time in regulation with just over a minute left to play. Snell lobbed the ball into the waiting arms of running back Sy’Veon Wilkerson and the sophomore was off to the races for a 45-yard score to send the game to overtime.
According to overtime rules, each team will start from its opponent’s 25-yard line. DeMatha’s offense took the field first and the Good Counsel defense went into overdrive.
Linebacker Jalen Green sacked Najarian on fourth-and-six and then the Falcons and Palmer got their chance.
“Big-time players make big-time plays. You’re big-time now,” Good Counsel head coach Andy Stefanelli told his squad as they gathered around him after the game.
“The last couple of years we haven’t been able to get these types of wins,” said Green. “For us just getting the big win against the four-time champions, that’s huge for us and that’s going to help us with seeding going into the playoffs.”
DeMatha head coach Elijah Brooks appeared stoic after the loss.
“Good Counsel made more plays than we did. It’s as simple as that,” he said. “It’s not going to be easy in this league and either we come together and get better or we’re going to keep getting the same result.”
The Stags have yet to win a conference game this season. Friday’s victory was Good Counsel’s first conference victory of the year.