Click here to view a slideshow of Gonzaga’s victory over DeMatha

Ten straight losses to an opponent doesn’t exactly scream rivalry, but the facts don’t often tell the whole story. There isn’t a bigger matchup in the Washington, D.C. area than DeMatha vs. Gonzaga, even if the latter hadn’t defeated DeMatha in the last ten meetings between the schools. But maybe for the first time during that span, Gonzaga arrived to its annual headliner on Saturday with the best player on the field between the two schools. Eagles starting quarterback Kevin Hogan is headed for Stanford next season, but first, he headed Gonzaga to a 32-25 victory over DeMatha on Saturday at Buchanan Field.

Behind Hogan’s three touchdown passes, the Eagles (4-1) flew past the Stags (3-2) in impressive fashion. Gonzaga’s offense played on cruise control for much of the afternoon as Hogan and fellow senior running back D’Lante Martino’s four touchdowns broke a lengthy span of misery for the Eagles. In two games last season, DeMatha outscored Gonzaga 84-24, but on Saturday, it was the Eagles who rung up the scoreboard, surprising a shell-shocked Stags team–and perhaps themselves.

“I don’t think I’ve come closer than 20 points ,” Hogan admitted. “Now we know we can play with anyone.” After DeMatha’s Darien Harris scored the game’s first touchdown on a short run, a member of the Stags’ crowd shouted “business as usual” in anticipation of another DeMatha victory. But after Martino’s second touchdown gave the Eagles a 13-7 lead in the middle of the second quarter, it was clear that the game wasn’t going to resemble anything close to the usual. Brent Wilkerson’s 10-yard reception gave DeMatha a 14-13 lead with 4:29 remaining before halftime, but it was the last lead the Stags would ever hold. Martino added two more scores before the Eagles’ Chris Schultz intercepted a pass to help Gonzaga close the half with a 25-14 lead.

DeMatha tied the game 25-25 on Jacob Siwicki’s 30-yard run at the top of the fourth quarter but Hogan never flinched. The 6-foot-4-inch signal caller used a four-minute drive to guide the Eagles down the field before shuffling a five-yard pass to Matt O’Donnell for the game’s final score. Gonzaga stopped DeMatha on a fourth down with 4:14 left in the game and the Eagles would go on to run out the clock, aided by a few more big plays by Hogan.

“I thought he had a great game,” DeMatha coach Bill McGregor said about the Gonzaga quarterback. “The first half he was 11 for 13, I don’t know what he threw for the entire game, probably over 200 yards but we couldn’t stop him. He played well, he did a lot of great things and he put us in some tough situations.”

Gonzaga students stormed the field after the final whistle, celebrating a goal that has continued to elude its gridiron group since beating DeMatha twice in the 2002 season. “The stigma of DeMatha is a problem and I’ve been trying to get rid of that,” Eagles head coach Joe Reyda said. “They’re very good every year and we haven’t beaten them in 10 games. If we want to be as good as everybody else in the league, we got to beat DeMatha and Good Counsel. That’s one of our goals.”

One down, one more to go.

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO