DeMatha Football | DeMatha rallies late to stun St. John’s for fourth straight WCAC title
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DeMatha rallies late to stun St. John’s for fourth straight WCAC title

DeMatha rallies late to stun St. John’s for fourth straight WCAC title

Grown men were bawling inside the DeMatha locker room, still trying to digest their comeback that will be talked about for years to come. But quarterback Beau English’s face betrayed none of these emotions.

This is just how “regular old Beau English” is, sophomore Myles Miree explained, and it’s the same demeanor he had throughout the frantic final moments of No. 1 DeMatha’s 34-29 win over No. 4 St. John’s in Saturday’s Washington Catholic Athletic Conference football championship game at the University of Maryland.

Relying on English’s poise and a couple of breaks, the Stags erased a 15-point deficit over the final 7:18 of the fourth quarter. Miree’s 18-yard diving catch along the sideline with 1:05 remaining was the winning touchdown.

DeMatha (12-0) then sealed its fourth consecutive WCAC title with an interception by senior Myles Canton, and the celebration began. But this team’s legacy will go hand in hand with the one English forged in Hyattsville.

“He might be off for three quarters, but when it’s money time, he is going to find a way to lead us to victory,” Coach Elijah Brooks said. “And he did it again.”

For much of Saturday, DeMatha’s hopes of completing its first undefeated season in a decade were in dire straits. Though English uncorked an 80-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Delante Hellams on the first play of the game, St. John’s (8-4) responded behind quarterback Kasim Hill.

Playing on his future home field, the Maryland recruit threw three first-half touchdown passes, including a 22-yard strike to wide receiver Ed Lee that gave the Cadets a 19-14 halftime lead. A field goal by junior Rafael Checa and a short touchdown pass from junior Maurice Bellan to Lee — after Hill briefly left the game with a left leg injury — then upped DeMatha’s deficit to 29-14 early in the fourth quarter.

But the Stags found new life when St. John’s botched a pitch on its next possession and DeMatha recovered the fumble.

“I knew that was going to be the spark we needed,” English said. “We saw that happen and got it going on offense and defense, and we started taking over the game.”

English soon scored on a 17-yard touchdown run with 5:16 remaining to cut St. John’s lead to 29-21. Then came the most bizarre play of the day.

On the ensuing kickoff, with St. John’s anticipating an onside kick, the ball rolled to the 1-yard line, and DeMatha’s Nicholas Cross recovered it. Two plays later, English found junior Anthony Toro in the end zone. The Stags, however, could not convert the two-point conversion and still trailed 29-27.

But a stop gave English the ball back with 2:27 left in regulation. His message in the huddle was one of relentless positivity. On that final 57-yard drive, English accounted for every yard, churning out first downs with his legs before lofting the pass to Miree that will earn a spot in the Stags’ pantheon.

“He became the greatest leader I’ve ever been with,” Toro said. “He never put his head down, and he told us just keep going and push through it and everything will work out in the end. But really, he just made some phenomenal plays.”

Injury scare

Saturday’s game ended abruptly after St. John’s offensive lineman Calvin Ashley suffered a scary injury that left him motionless and unconscious on the turf. The Auburn recruit attempted to make a tackle leading with his helmet on DeMatha’s final interception and immediately collapsed to the ground. He was taken from the field by stretcher.

Both coaches agreed to end the game with 29 seconds remaining, and the teams held a collective prayer at midfield in lieu of a trophy presentation.

“He’s responsive, he has movement of his extremities, and he is sorry that we lost,” St. John’s Athletic Director Brian Griffin said of Ashley, who was being treated at Prince George’s Medical Center. “ We appreciate how classy DeMatha was with the situation.”

Griffin said Ashley was scheduled to undergo a CT scan and was to remain hospitalized for further evaluation.


Mark Giannotto is a Montgomery County native who covers high school sports for The Washington Post. He previously covered Virginia and Virginia Tech football for five years.

 Follow @mgiannotto