Augustine, G.W. will their way to OT victory


Pen­alty flags were abund­ant, the of­fense was sloppy and it nev­er stopped rain­ing as George Wash­ing­ton took on West Cath­ol­ic in a non-league game Sat­urday night at North­east’s Charles Mar­tin Sta­di­um. West Cath­ol­ic dom­in­ated the first 36 minutes of the game, but the ad­versity brought out the best in the battle-tested Eagles.

Through the first two games of the sea­son, there has been some un­cer­tainty at the quar­ter­back po­s­i­tion for the reign­ing Pub­lic League champs between seni­ors Al Au­gustine and Dave Gav­rilov. Gav­rilov led Wash­ing­ton to a 16-12 sea­son-open­ing win over SCH Academy. Then, it was Au­gustine’s turn on Sat­urday, as 28th year head coach Ron Co­hen wanted to get a feel for what Au­gustine would look like in game ac­tion be­fore de­cid­ing on a starter for the rest of the sea­son.

“Coach Co­hen just wanted to see how both of us could play in a game situ­ation,” Au­gustine said after the game. “He will most likely make his de­cision this week. Good luck to Dav­id, and may the best man win.”

In the first half, Wash­ing­ton had a dif­fi­cult time mov­ing the ball in the rain. Au­gustine com­pleted only two of five passes for a mere 17 yards. Ad­di­tion­ally, on the ground, Wash­ing­ton used a three-headed at­tack with ju­ni­or Ken Ever­age and seni­ors Mar­quis Ed­wards and Don­ald Smith. In the first half, Wash­ing­ton man­aged 70 yards on the ground to move the clock and con­trol the ball at times, but first downs were few and far between.

After a sloppy, sco­re­less 18 minutes of foot­ball, Wash­ing­ton seni­or kick­er/punter, Jake Wright pinned West Cath­ol­ic on the four-yard line with 6:23 to go in the first half (one of two punts Jake pinned in­side the five). Nev­er­the­less, tail­back Greg White took West Cath­ol­ic’s first play of the drive the dis­tance, ac­cu­mu­lat­ing 96 of his even­tu­al 140 yards to give the Burrs a 7-0 lead.

Wash­ing­ton fol­lowed the White touch­down run with a three and out. On West Cath­ol­ic’s en­su­ing drive, sopho­more quar­ter­back An­t­wain Mc­Col­lum  or­ches­trated a 10-play drive, capped by a 16-yard touch­down pass to seni­or all-pur­pose and de­fens­ive back Sha­quille James (three re­cep­tions, 43 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT). West Cath­ol­ic missed the ex­tra point, but dom­in­ated the half and took a 13-0 lead in­to the lock­er room.

The second half, however, was a com­pletely dif­fer­ent game as the Eagles showed that they were down but not out.

Wash­ing­ton’s de­fense came out with some re­newed en­ergy in the second half, led by de­fens­ive line­man and Di­vi­sion-I pro­spect Justin Moody, who sacked Mc­Col­lum for a nine-yard loss on West’s open­ing drive.

On of­fense, Au­gustine fi­nally had Wash­ing­ton mov­ing the chains, but after two first down con­ver­sions and a 15-yard de­fens­ive facemask pen­alty, James picked off Au­gustine’s third down pass, de­flat­ing the drive and seem­ingly Wash­ing­ton’s hopes of a comeback with only 1:52 re­main­ing in the third quarter.

But the de­fense stayed strong, stepped up and held White to just 26 yards on nine second half car­ries.

Be­gin­ning the fi­nal quarter from their own 48 yard-line, the Eagles picked up two con­sec­ut­ive first downs and faced an im­port­ant 3rd and 10 from West Cath­ol­ic’s 23 with 8:59 left in the game.

Up to this point in the game, Au­gustine was just 2-for-8 for 17 yards, in­clud­ing the in­ter­cep­tion. On a sure­fire passing down, Au­gustine needed to make a play, and he did just that. He con­nec­ted with seni­or tight end D’An­dre Dunkley for 14 yards, and on the very next play, Au­gustine handed off to seni­or full­back Melvin Gonza­lez for a 9-yard touch­down. Now trail­ing 13-7 with 8:29 re­main­ing, it fi­nally looked like the Eagles would have a shot at vic­tory.

After an­oth­er de­fens­ive stand, the Wash­ing­ton of­fense star­ted from their own 30 with 5:10 re­main­ing. After six straight runs (two first downs, in­clud­ing a 25-yard carry by Ever­age), Wash­ing­ton was on West Cath­ol­ic’s 28 and with­in strik­ing dis­tance. Au­gustine threw in­com­plete on 3rd and 6 with 1:45 re­main­ing, set­ting up a cru­cial fourth down.

With the game on the line, Wash­ing­ton reached in­to its bag of tricks, and ran a re­verse to Smith, who snuck around the left side for 12 yards and a first down.

The drive con­tin­ued, as Au­gustine com­mit­ted an in­ten­tion­al ground­ing pen­alty on first down and threw an in­com­plete pass on second, bring­ing up a 3rd and 25, back at the West Cath­ol­ic 29 yard line with 1:05 left. With his back against the wall, the strug­gling Au­gustine re­mark­ably de­livered, hit­ting ju­ni­or wideout Rasheed Black on a short slant pass. Black rumbled the rest of the way for a 29-yard score with un­der a minute to play to tie the game.

“We needed a big play, and fast,” Au­gustine said of the crit­ic­al play. “Our coaches saw a hole in their de­fense, which we de­cided to at­tack. With great block­ing up front and an ex­cel­lent catch by Rasheed, the play was per­fec­ted.”

However, Wright’s ex­tra point kick went wide left, and the game stayed knot­ted at 13 and was bound for over­time.

Awar­ded the first ex­tra ses­sion pos­ses­sion, Wash­ing­ton was stopped on three downs. Wright, look­ing for re­demp­tion, came out for a 24-yard field-goal at­tempt but clunked it off the left up­right to keep the score tied. But the drama kept com­ing, as a West de­fend­er ran in­to Wright, draw­ing a rough­ing the kick­er pen­alty. Wash­ing­ton got the ball back and Au­gustine held a 1-yard keep­er for a touch­down. Wright nailed the ex­tra point this time, giv­ing Wash­ing­ton a 20-13 lead in over­time.

Now, it was West Cath­ol­ic’s turn for one fi­nal at­tempt to push the game to a second over­time.

After a false start pen­alty and an in­com­plete pass, Wash­ing­ton had all the mo­mentum. But fa­cing a second down and goal from the 15, Mc­Col­lum (12-for-20, 168 yards, 2 TDs) who was im­press­ive all night, threw a bul­let in­to the chest of re­ceiv­er Patrick Am­ara for a touch­down to make it 20-19, Wash­ing­ton.

West elec­ted to go for two points and the win, but Mc­Col­lum’s pass came up a little short. The comeback vic­tory pushed the Eagles to a per­fect 2-0 start, with two ex­tremely tight con­tests.

Show­ing poise, Au­gustine re­mained the lead­er of his team’s of­fense throughout the game’s peaks and val­leys. Al­though his passing num­bers (4-for-15, 60 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) wer­en’t pretty, he did enough to de­liv­er the win. On the ground, Ever­age and Smith gained 77 and 76 yards, re­spect­ively.

“God pulled us through the game,” Au­gustine said after it was over. “We nev­er lost faith or con­fid­ence in him or in ourselves. We just kept play­ing to the last whistle.” ••

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