Leo had won 10 of its previous 11 football meetings with the team formerly known as Gordon Tech and which now goes by DePaul Prep. Such domination was nowhere to be found at St. Rita’s Cronin Field on Saturday, March 27. The Lions were complicit in their own demise as an 8-0 defeat left them with an 0-2 record in this curious, COVID-created spring season.
Rams defensive back Mikael McCalrin intercepted a James E’Akels screen pass on the third play of the game and brought it back 36 yards. A 16-yard scoring strike from Anthony Martinez to Shane O’Brien would subsequently produce the day’s only touchdown.
After a valiant goal-line stand in the third quarter—DePaul had five tries from inside the three-yard line and did not score—Leo took over at its own one. Jalen Johnson was tackled in the end zone on the first play for a safety and the 8-0 final.
The Lions had three opportunities to win a winnable game, but were done in by their own mistakes.
E’Akels and Raiyon Davidson hooked up on a 73-yard pass play that looked like a touchdown but was negated by a block-in-the-back penalty, the infraction occurring well after Davidson had sped by.
E’Akels hit Chris Lindo for nine yards on a fourth-and-seven play that gave Leo a first down at DePaul’s 15-yard line, but a dead-ball personal foul on the play moved the ball back to the 30, where the drive died.
Finally, a 48-yard collaboration between E’Akels and sophomore Merrick Sample brought Leo to the Rams’ 17-yard line with just over two minutes remaining, but E’Akels next pass went directly to DePaul linebacker Mike Battaglini. The Rams got the ball back and ran out the clock.
“Mistakes killed us,” Coach Mike Holmes said.
E’Akels finished 9-for-19 for 132 yards, with two costly interceptions. He was dropped three times for 27 yards in losses and spent much of the day running for his life. Marcus Ray carried 10 times for 74 yards, but had only four touches in the second half.
Martinez completed 10 of 22 passes for 122 yards, connecting five times with Cole Cerravolo for 48 yards.
But the game’s most telling statistic was Leo’s 10 penalties for 71 yards. Four times the Lions were flagged for having 12 men on the field.
They’ll try to do better next Saturday when they face St. Joe’s at Elmhurst University.