WASHINGTON, D.C. — For so long, St. John’s was achingly close to beating the legendary DeMatha football program, only to fall short. Just a season ago, the Cadets were within a quarter of not only winning a Washington Catholic Athletic League championship, but also beating the vaunted Stags, which is why Saturday afternoon meant so much more to the seniors on this squad. After witnessing the despair in his locker room prior to the championship collapse, defensive tackle Cam Goode vowed to never allow his teammates to cry like he saw that night.
“It’s unexplainable,” Goode said. “I’m just so proud of my boys, my coaches. I’m just happy.”
When the dust settled on the intense afternoon, the Cadets finally exercised their 23-year-old demons in a 38-22 victory over the struggling Stags.
Kevin Doyle overcame an early interception to throw for 266 yards and two touchdowns. Ron Cook had a hat-trick filling in for the injured Keilan Robinson, rushing for 47 yards and two touchdowns along with a touchdown through the air and 59 receiving yards. The Cadets also secured two turnovers, one fumble and an interception. For DeMatha, new starter under center, Eric Najarian, threw for 124 yards and an interception and ran for a touchdown as well. Dominic Logan-Nealy ran for 63 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
“I was really proud of my guys tonight,” Doyle said. “You can go down the list, a lot of guys stepped up tonight.”
Even after throwing an interception on his first drive of the game, Doyle initially struggled to get into a rhythm, starting out 2-for-8 passing. Doyle and the Cadets were finally able to get things going after Mordecai McDaniel secured a tipped-drill interception. On the drive, he completed four of five passes and hooked up with Cook on a 10-yard pass for the Cadets’ first touchdown.
Doyle also displayed capability in the hard count when he drew a false start on DeMatha during a crucial 4th-and-short. Cook was able to bring in his second touchdown of the day when he walked in from three yards out to give the Cadets a 14-7 lead late in the first quarter.
“It’s my first time playing DeMatha,” Doyle said. “I had no mental barriers. So, I don’t care who they are.”
After the break, the Stags came out with fire and ran the ball 12 straight times to send a message to the Cadets. Logan-Nealy cut the lead to 17-14 with his 2-yard run. St. John’s responded with its own touchdown when Antwaine Littleton barreled in from four yards out. In the final frame, and with a 24-14 lead, Doyle connected with leading receiver Charles Briscoe (five receptions, 100 yards and one touchdown) for a 37-yard touchdown and increase the lead to 31-14.
Logan-Nealy responded with a 16-yard touchdown on the ground. The Cadets sent a dagger into the Stags’ heart when Cook completed his trifecta with a 9-yard touchdown. With that final score of the afternoon, the St. John’s fan section erupted into celebration as they chanted “3-and-0” with the Stags’ season seemingly in disarray with their latest loss.
For the Cadets, the most frequent word used in the postgame huddle was finishing. After failing to hold on to leads against De La Salle and St. John Bosco, the Cadets were finally able to get the monkey off their back against a top-ranked team in DeMatha. Coach Joe Casamento and his assistants applauded their squad on the historical win, with assistant Pat Ward thanking the Cadets for getting rid of the 23-year-old burden. Next week, the Cadets face off against Archbishop Carroll.
“Just don’t take anybody for granted,” Goode said. “Every game is a big game, so if we live like that, practice like that, then we’re going to win.”