What We Learned: Good Counsel outlasts No. 8 Gonzaga in epic marathon

Photo: Gonzaga College High School

Gonzaga College High School (Washington, D.C.) has been one of the most consistent teams in the country all season. On Friday the Eagles ran up against their match in a classic tussle of WCAC rivals.

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Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) outlasted Gonzaga by a score of 42-35 in five (yes! 5!!!) overtimes. Here’s what we learned from a serious contender for national game of the year:

1) Gonzaga College had its chance and missed … wide left

Being a placekicker is hard. Immeasurable pressure and expectation. The vicissitudes of wind and other temperamental weather factors. Still, at the end of the day, kickers are often the hero or the goat, and on Friday, Gonzaga’s Stephen Cullina was the latter. With a chance to take the lead early in the fourth quarter, Cullina shanked a 24-yard field goal attempt wide left, which left the game knotted at 7-7. That set the stage for the non-stop overtime parade and, eventually, Gonzaga’s first setback of an impressive season.

2) The most dramatic plays came on back-to-back downs in the first half, not overtime

It’s easy to assume that all the drama in a game unfolded in overtime, particularly when a game stretches to five extra periods. That would overlook the passage of play at the end of the first half where both teams missed out on a chance to take the lead thanks to interceptions on back-to-back plays. First, Good Counsel Nic Ware jumped a route and picked off an under thrown ball near midfield. Had the pass been completed, Gonzaga might have had a shot to at least sneak within field goal range before the end of the half. Then, as soon as the Falcons had the ball, Gonzaga’s Kye Holmes intercepted a well thrown Hail Mary that would have given Good Counsel a touchdown lead. Both plays were exceptional pieces of play out of the defensive backfield, and both had a significant impact on the outcome of the game.

3) Overtimes are for Chase Williams and Sy’Veon Wilkinson

When Good Counsel needed to win, it leaned in to star quarterback Chase Williams and running back Sy’Veon Wilkerson. The faith paid off, with Williams passing for one touchdown and running for two more in the five-overtime periods and Wilkerson carrying the ball into the end zone in one OT and hauling in the TD reception from Williams in the other. With Gonzaga parrying punch-for-punch, it was Williams’ athleticism, determination and cool under pressure that ultimately made the difference as the Falcons earned the win of the year in the mid-Atlantic.

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