CAPITOL HEIGHTS – National Christian Academy handed Fairmont Heights High School its first loss of the season on Oct. 19, a 28-0 blowout featuring two touchdowns of more than 50 yards and a stingy red zone defense that left Prince George’s County Public Schools with a single undefeated team by the end of the evening.
The Eagles got on the board early with a 73-yard catch and run by wide receiver Damion Farmer, a short pass the senior turned into six points after weaving through most of the Hornets’ defense. Farmer struck again to open the fourth quarter on a 56-yard bomb from quarterback Jalen Lea.
The Farmer to Lea duo piled up 147 yards through the air, nearly as much as Fairmont Heights’ total offense.
“Me and Damion had a really good connection,” Lea said. “Players were making plays tonight.”
Lea completed 8-of-16 passes for 251 yards and two scores, adding a 14-yard rushing score to close the first half. Running back Jason Mackall led the Eagles in rushing with 77 yards on seven carries, followed by Jaylen Johnson’s five carries for 40 yards and a touchdown.
Farmer’s second touchdown was a playground-style improvisation, with Lea stepping up in the pocket and then rolling out to avoid the rush and heaving it downfield, his receiver having broken up-field and beyond the defender.
“I know if I can use my speed to get around anybody, nobody is gonna touch me,” Farmer said. “Me and Jaylen have that connection no matter what.”
National Christian had seven different plays of at least 25 yards, moving the ball in large chunks against the Fairmont Heights defense. Mackall found big holes frequently behind an imposing offensive line, a group that also gave Lea plenty of time to find open pass catchers.
“The four or five wide receivers that we have in the game and the running backs are probably some of the best in the area,” said National Christian Head Coach Andre Kates, before applauding his offensive coordinator and offensive line. “None of that would be possible without those guys.”
Fairmont Heights (7-0) was coming off massive victories over High Point and Central, though the team had plenty of close calls up to this point. The Hornets escaped with a two-point win over Largo and a five-point victory against Oxon Hill, after beating both Laurel and Potomac by a touchdown. The team had only allowed more than 21 points once on the season and had only been held under 10 on one other occasion.
“We didn’t have our best week of practice,” said Fairmont Heights Head Coach Rodney Williams. “Sometimes when things are going well for you, you lose focus a little bit. When we had opportunities to cross that goal line, we didn’t get it done today because we know that happened in practice.”
The Hornets’ first real chance came to open the second half after a Kemani Rhodes’ kickoff return set the offense up inside the National Christian 30-yard line.
First down runs by Jamal Lone and Ricardo Jackson had Fairmont Heights deep in the red zone, but three plays went for a loss of one and quarterback Anthony Craven threw incomplete on fourth down, giving the ball back to National Christian.
The Eagles would put together a seven-play drive capped off by Farmer’s second score, effectively ending the game.
“We made a lot of mistakes, a lot of mistakes,” said Lone, who was stuffed on third and goal before the Craven incompletion. “It was just missed blocks and not finishing the run. We just gotta trust our teammates.”
Lone had 76 yards on 15 carries, ripping off a handful of first-down runs, though the team finished with less than 100 yards on the ground. Fairmont Heights moved the ball without much opposition between the 20s, faltering when they got in close.
The Hornets’ next possession after Farmer’s touchdown went similarly, pushing deep into National Christian territory only to have Craven flushed from the pocket and sacked by Cameron Lomax on fourth down.
“When they played back a little bit when they gave us bubbles, we were able to move the ball a little bit,” Williams said. “We were able to get in the red zone a few times, but when they buckled down and put more guys in the box, that’s where we struggled…It was tough when we got in those situations.”
Craven struggled to get much going under center, completing less than half of his throws for just 57 yards. The National Christian pass rush bothered him for most of the game, especially as they built a lead and Fairmont Heights was forced into obvious passing situations.
“Defense played big,” Kates said. “It’s Fairmont Heights, of course, it’s tough. A 7-0 team coming in, they had a real good game against Potomac, really good game against Oxon Hill. We wanted to make sure, knowing they were a second half team, that we keep it on them. Blitz, bring a lot of pressure.”
Fairmont Heights should be able to regain some momentum heading into the postseason, with just one game against an above .500 team in its remaining three contests. National Christian faces another tough road test in their next game with a matchup against St. Christopher’s School.