Tuesday, December 10, 2013 7:36 AM
Published on: Monday, November 19, 2012
By Patrick Stoll
GEORGE MASON - SILVER SPRING – In a game filled with high-drama, tension, turnovers and gritty football play, the Avalon Black Knights secured their third straight Capital Area Football Conference Title Friday, defeating archrival Perry Street Prep Pride for the third straight year, this time by a score of 36-30.
Avalon once again had to come from behind to beat Prep, just as they did earlier this season. This time, The Black Knights had to overcome five first half turnovers (three inside Perry Street’s red zone) to erase an early second half deficit.
Jacquille Veii had 394 all-purpose yards and became the first Avalon player to ever have more than 100 yards receiving(with two receptions for 107 yards), 100 yards rushing (11 carries for 139 yards), and 100 yards returning (145 yards off returns) in one game, scoring one touchdown in each category. Rachid Ibrahim also had 280 yards rushing and scored two touchdowns in the last game of his high school career, on Avalon's senior night. Quarterback Wyatt Karem threw for more than 100 yards for the first time this season as the Avalon passing game made a big difference, posting the first touchdown of the game.
After the game head coach Tad Shields expressed his gratitude for his seniors in their final Avalon victory:
“They all came to play tonight. Three in a row is really an accomplishment, and all the credit goes to the players.”
The first quarter was one of the most difficult of the season for the Black Knights. Avalon had two chances to score from inside the two-yard-line but failed to convert and it was then Perry St. Prep who broke the ice with the first touchdown and a failed conversion to go ahead 6-0.
That’s when the nascent Avalon passing game struck gold.
Enter Wyatt Karem
On a double fade pass, Veii found himself wide open while Karem hit him in stride on a 65-yard pass to tie the ball game 6-6.
Veii then broke the tie with a 65 yard scamper, and scored the two-point conversion. Perry Street then had an 84 yard catch-and-run to bring the game to 14-12, taking advantage of Avalon's shaky pass defense.
Perry Street then jumped out to its biggest lead in the opening of the third quarter, with an 80-yard kickoff return to make the score 24-14.
Enter D-1 running back Rachid Ibrahim.
With the ball on his own eight-yard line, Ibrahim took a direct snap off-tackle and then bounced it outside, delivering a wicked stiff-arm to a would-be tackler before dashing 92-yards for a quick touchdown.
But Ibrahim wasn’t done yet.
With kicker Tommy Vince, who had already delivered a stifling blow from his linebacker position to stop one drive by Perry Street, lined up to deliver an onside kick, Ibrahim stood ready to field it.
After the ball bounced off the hands of an awaiting Pride player, Ibrahim scooped it up and ran it in for a touchdown. Ruled dead where he fielded it, Ibrahim then helped engineer a drive that ended in another score and a four-point Avalon lead, 28-24.
“Coach (Tad Shields)just told us to keep pounding and keep playing defense, and to make a play. Keep fighting,” Veii said at the end of the game.
Avalon finally turned its defense around in the third quarter on a series of sacks. Karem, playing a nickel back position blitzed off the edge, forced a fumble on one occasion and helpedg free up the defensive end to make a play.
Enter Adam McClean.
McClean, freed by Karem’s rush, put down the Perry Street quarterback for successive sacks and then threatened to put him out of the game with a crowd-silencing tackle in the open field.
“We had a lot more success stopping their passing game in the second half, which was really important to us... they have some really good players that we had to worry about,” Shields said.
Avalon limited Perry St. to just two touchdowns in the second half, one on a kick return and the second after a bobbled snap on a punt gave the Pride a short field. At that it took four downs for Perry Street to reach the end zone on a short run which gave them their last lead at 30-28.
Enter Jacquielle Veii.
The wily senior already had scored a rushing touchdown and was at the receiving end of a Karem bomb, but Veii saved the best for last.
With a little more than four minutes left in the game he picked up the Perry Street kickoff on his own 23-yard line and at first – did absolutely nothing.
“I said, ‘what are you doing?’” Coach Shields recalled.
“I was looking for an opening,” Veii said later.
“He’s getting ready to score,” an assistant coach replied.
As the entire stadium grew quiet, Veii waited, without moving, and only when he saw an opening, darted straight through it. Around the 50-yard-line he found a Pride defender with his hands on his jersey, tugging to pull him down.
“I wasn’t going down coach,” Veii said afterward. “I just wasn’t going to go down.”
He then broke that tackle and two more before he darted to daylight and ended his evening with a 77-yard kickoff return touchdown to complete his trifecta of one passing, one receiving and one kickoff return touchdown and more than 100-yards gained in each category.
The crowd, of course, went wild, but the game still wasn’t over.
Perry Street found new life in its running game and then found a receiver open across the middle to put them back in scoring position with a little more than two minutes left to go in the game.
Enter Isaac Boyd.
During a key timeout Boyd drew the assignment of manning up on the Pride’s best go-to receiver. On the next play, with the game in the balance, Perry St. looked to that receiver on a fade in the end zone to tie the game.
But Boyd, who has had key interceptions in three games this year, came through with a big play and another interception in the end zone to kill the Perry Street drive.
After that, Ibrahim ran for a couple of first downs before Karem killed the clock with a kneel down to end the game and cement Avalon’s third consecutive conference title.
“That's a tough team that always gives us a go when we play them, we knew what we would get... we never gave up, man, that's what it’s all about. It's a blessing. We've been working hard, and this is a great way to end the season, in the seniors' last game, and I'd really love for the underclassmen to continue the path,” Ibrahim said at the end of the game.