LANDOVER – All Marshawn Lloyd needed was one run.
After a two-week layoff due to a hamstring injury and the bye week, the DeMatha Stags running back has been itching to get back on the field.
He got his chance against Gonzaga College High School on Oct. 12, where he slowly accumulated 86 rushing yards by the end of regulation time. However, his most significant gain, by that point, was 14 yards.
In his first play from scrimmage in the third overtime period, Lloyd showed why he is regarded as one of the best running backs in Prince George’s County.
After receiving the handoff, the senior bounced off would-be tackle rs one by one. But, like a machine, Lloyd never stopped moving. With a defender hanging on to him, he muscled his way to the end zone for the game-winner.
With emotions high and the lights bright, Lloyd excelled, finishing the game with 126 rushing yards and scoring four touchdowns as DeMatha won their fifth consecutive game, and their Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) league opener, defeating the Eagles 27-21 on Oct. 12.
“To come back from a tragic injury (and play), it feels great, and it is pushing me to work harder,” Lloyd said.
Lloyd’s running excellence effectively kept DeMatha (5-1) on pace with their opponents in a competitive league. The running back credits recovery time to rest his body during the past two weeks, which ultimately was enough to reenergize his standout performance. He finished averaging more than five yards per carry.
“He had been due to a breakout game and breakout plays,” DeMatha Head Coach Elijah Brooks said. “To see him run and see him finish the game off like that, I am super proud of him. He had practiced really well this week, and the burst was back, so it was really good to see him out there doing great things on the field.”
Eagles quarterback Caleb Williams struggled to deal with the pressure coming from DeMatha’s defensive line, getting sacked five times and forced him to throw three interceptions.
The final interception came in during Gonzaga’s third overtime possession as Stags’ Demarcco Hellams outjumped tight end Justin Ball in the end zone.
“I knew I had him when we were matched up man-to-man,” Hellams said. “When the ball came out, I knew I had to make a play.”
Both teams’ offenses showed their effectiveness to get the ball down the field.
However, once they made it to the red zone, they were unable to complete drives with points. Gonzaga (6-2) fired the first shot on the game’s opening drive, going 80 yards in eight plays, capped off with Williams finding Ball for the three-yard touchdown pass. Following that score, the Eagles would punt their following four possessions.
After missing a 21-yard field goal in their opening drive, DeMatha waited for the second quarter to reach the end zone, handing it off to Lloyd for the five-yard run. The Stags would punt to end five of their next six drives. DeMatha senior quarterback Eric Najarian finished going 17-for-29, accumulating 153 passing yards and rushed for 22 yards but was unable to score a touchdown.
While only 14 of his 30 passes were completed, Williams was able to find success in running with the ball, scoring both Eagles touchdowns during the overtime period. He finished rushing for 76 yards and looked poised to lead Gonzaga to victory, overcoming throwing two interceptions during the second half.
“The whole week, we have been working on staying with our game plan, breaking down film, learning tendencies and learning matchups and when we came out here, we just made plays,” Hellams said. “Our defense came out to work; Our offense challenges each other and the defense challenges each other, and at the end of the day, we did not want to walk off the field with a loss.”
But nothing was stopping Lloyd, who rushed for 40 yards during overtime, including scoring all three touchdowns. With their first WCAC win in the books, his star running back in-form and the Stags defense making plays, Brooks is excited to see his team play against rivals Our Lady of Good Counsel on Oct. 19.
“It is going to be tough sledding moving forward; it’s not going to get any easier, they’re going to be in situations like this, and we just got to find a way to pull it off,” Brooks said. “We got to dig deep, have some grit, grow some toughness and our guys know that they have to the ability to do all of that, which is key moving forward.”
There was a moment of silence held for former linebacker Marquis “Jaylen” Brown, who died after a 16 story-fall in Brottier Hall in Duquesne University on Oct. 4. Junior Melteon Davis wore Brown’s No. 40 jersey and players had stickers with the initials “JB” on their helmets. Funeral services for Brown took place on Oct. 15 at the First Baptist Church of Glenarden Worship Center in Upper Marlboro.