By Brandy L. Simms
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Good Counsel Falcons varsity football team rallied from a halftime deficit Saturday en route to a 38-31 road victory over conference rival Gonzaga Purple Eagles on Buchanan Field.
Behind a rushing attack featuring junior Sy’Veon Wilkerson, the Falcons toppled the Purple Eagles on a gloomy weekend afternoon in the nation’s capital.
Good Counsel head coach Andy Stefanelli delivered a halftime pep talk that was heard by the players. The team executed their game plan to perfection and helped the Falcons capture yet another win.
“I didn’t think we played a great first half and I knew we could play better and I just challenged them to play better,” said Stefanelli.
Wilkerson, who rushed for a game-high 262 yards on 23 carries, almost singlehandedly helped Good Counsel earn their fifth win and knock Gonzaga from the ranks of the unbeaten.
“He’s a beast,” said Stefanelli. “He hurt his ankle first week and really just got back to full strength. We’ve been kind of hoping he’d have a breakout game and he sure came through today.”
Good Counsel also received a standout performance from reserve cornerback Justin Jackson who stepped up in the nick of time.
Jackson, who replaced two-way standout Cam Hart, registered a pair of interceptions including a pick-six that helped change the complexion of the game.
“We always need some players to step up to create a spark,” said Wilkerson. “Whether you start or you don’t start, everybody got to create a spark for the team. Once one player creates a spark, the rest of the team is going to feed off that.”
Good Counsel, who trailed by a touchdown at halftime, tied the game at 14-14 on Curtis Walker’s pick-six with 9:24 remaining in the third quarter.
Gonzaga (6-1) responded on the ensuing possession when sophomore quarterback Caleb Williams connected with Sam Sweeney to put the Purple Eagles ahead, 21-14.
“They’re a great team,” said Stefanelli. “I told our kids we’ll see them again. This is a scrimmage. We’re going to see them again. They’re a phenomenal team. You can never rest when you play them.”
Good Counsel quarterback Kam Snell found wide receiver Ryan Swigart from five yards out with 4:15 remaining in the game.
However, Jackson picked off Williams on the ensuing possession and returned the interception 20 yards for a touchdown to put the Falcons ahead, 31-21, with 4:02 remaining in the contest.
“This is our house,” chants rang from the Good Counsel cheering section and the game’s momentum had shifted.
Another touchdown pass from Williams cut the Gonzaga deficit to 31-28 with 1:55 left but Wilkerson sealed the deal on a long touchdown run with 1:36 remaining.
“Hey, I just had to end it,” explained Wilkerson. “I just had to end it.”
Good Counsel (5-1) has a showdown this week with Washington Catholic Athletic Conference rival St. John’s that is scheduled to be played Friday night at Catholic University and nationally televised on ESPN2.
“I’ve seen them already this year once and they are really, really good,” said Stefanelli.