In the 2018 WCAC championship game, Gonzaga defeated DeMatha 46-43, in thrilling fashion. A touchdown pass with four seconds remaining not only secured the title for the Eagles, their first since 2002, but it also broke the Stags’ heart in the process.
On Saturday, DeMatha sets out for revenge.
The championship game played out like a Hollywood movie script. Trailing 20-0 early in the first half, the underdog Eagles mounted a feverish comeback, taking the lead for the first time with 29 seconds remaining in the game. DeMatha returned the ensuing kickoff 77 yards to put the Stags up 43-40 with 15 seconds left. That set up a Caleb Williams-to-John Marshall, 53-yard Hail Mary as time expired — a moment that will be passed down in Gonzaga football lore.
To the Zaga faithful, the fairytale ending was a dream. For DeMatha, it was a nightmare.
“I still think about it all the time,” said DeMatha running back, Marshawn Lloyd. “ I can’t put into words what I felt that night; everything seemed like a blur. All I could do was think about what I could have done to change the situation”.
DeMatha is a dominant program. They’ve appeared in 20 of the last 22 WCAC championship games and last season, were attempting to win their fifth title in six years. They carried the anguish of that loss with them into the off season, determined to use it as motivation. “It fuels us every day,” said Lloyd. “ The shirts we work out in say, ‘4 seconds’ on the front and ‘Finish’ on the back. Our coaches don’t want us to forget”.
And it’s with that energy that the Stags have attacked the out of conference portion of their schedule. Riding a potent rushing attack and dominating defense, DeMatha (5-1) has won five consecutive games, 4 of which by shutout — outscoring their opponents 162-6 over that stretch.
“We know what we're capable of. We’ve been giving our all every play— not giving teams time to breathe," said Lloyd.
Saturday, the Stags will face a Gonzaga (6-1) team searching for their own piece of redemption. After steam-rolling their first six opponents, last week the Eagles fell 42-35 to WCAC foe Good Counsel (6-1), in a 5 overtime thriller.
The 42 points allowed by Gonzaga is a bit misleading as all but 7 were given up in overtime, while playing on a shortened field. The Eagles defense is disciplined and stout. Led by interior anchor, Josh Williams and play-making safety, Kye Holmes, the Zaga defense is poised to pose quite a challenge for Lloyd and the Stags.
The Eagles offense is led by 5-star quarterback Caleb Williams. A young man capable of generating offense in a multitude of ways. Last week he accounted for all 5 Eagles scores; 1 by air and 4 on the ground. Undoubtedly, DeMatha will need to devote additional resources in attempts to keep Williams at bay.
Saturday at 2p, no. 3 Gonzaga will play host to no. 1 DeMatha. It’s a big game for both teams. The Eagles look to prove that last season's storybook ending was not a fluke and that they are deserving of the title, “defending WCAC champs”.
DeMatha, on the other hand, looks to write a new chapter in this storied rivalry, or at least re-write the previous.