BETHESDA -- The seventh-ranked Mount St. Joseph football team did something uncharacteristic yesterday afternoon. The Gaels ran the ball nearly three times more than they passed.
The result was a huge day for senior running back Keon Lattimore, who finished with 228 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries while leading the Gaels to a 35-21 victory over host Landon of the Interstate Athletic Conference.
"Coach always tells me, 'Keon, you're 205 pounds. Just run straight, and you're going to run through all the arm tackles,'" said Lattimore, who had touchdown carries of 18, 70 and 69 yards. "So I just tried to run hard and not make too many cuts."
The Gaels (3-1) overcame seven-point deficits three times in the first half and wore the Bears (1-1) down in the second. In all, Mount St. Joseph rushed 29 times for 255 yards and four touchdowns. Senior Dan Hairston also had an 8-yard touchdown run.
But it was Lattimore who ran wild through Landon's defense. His team trailing 7-0, Lattimore broke six tackles on the way to his first touchdown, an 18-yard score. With the Bears leading 14-7, Lattimore lined up on the right as the only running back behind three receivers, caught a crisp, lateral pass from senior quarterback Nick Tanis, reversed field and bolted 70 yards down the left sideline to score. John Mudrick's extra-point kick tied the game, 14-14, on the first play of the second quarter.
Landon -- coached for the first time by the school's highly successful lacrosse coach, Rob Bordley -- went ahead 21-14 late in the half following an 11-play, 85-yard drive that took 6 minutes, 19 seconds, ending with a 2-yard touchdown run by junior Austin Sanders.
But 17 seconds later, the Gaels tied it again on a 72-yard strike from Tanis to junior wide receiver Matt Goldberg and another Mudrick extra point.
Tanis completed eight of 11 passes for 147 yards, one touchdown and one interception, and Goldberg made three catches for 113 yards and a touchdown in the first half before leaving with an injured wrist.
In the second half, the Gaels all but abandoned the pass, Tanis throwing just three times. But Lattimore picked up the slack with a 69-yard touchdown run on Mount St. Joe's second play, helping the Gaels to a 28-21 lead. On the Gaels' second possession of the third quarter, Lattimore rushed four times for 42 yards to set up Hairston's score.
"We try to do what they're giving us," said Mount St. Joseph coach Mike Working. "When we passed, we were still pretty effective. What we tried to do was keep our defense rested in the second half. That's why we really jammed it. And we felt like Keon's a guy that, if he gets enough reps, if he gets enough shots at it, he'll get the hang of it."