What was billed as an epic matchup of area football titans in Saturday's inaugural I-95 Kickoff Classic quickly turned into a one-sided affair, as top-ranked Gilman raced to a three-touchdown lead by halftime and rolled to a 28-7 win over Good Counsel, ranked No. 1 by The Washington Post and No. 9 in the nation by USA Today.
The win gave Baltimore teams -- considered heavy underdogs in the two-day tournament -- three wins in their four games against Washington-area powers.
None, however, was more high-profile than Gilman's. The Greyhounds handed Good Counsel (1-1), the defending champ of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, its first loss to a team other than DeMatha since Sept. 21, 2007, as well as its most lopsided defeat since falling to the Stags, 34-7, in 2008.
"It's a big stepping stone," wide receiver Cyrus Jones said. "Our season doesn't get any easier. We've just got to be humble, take this win and move on."
"We definitely believed that we could beat them from the jump," quarterback Darius Jennings said. "We're going to celebrate this [for now]."
Gilman (2-0), the defending Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference champion, built a 28-7 lead by late in the first half after scoring 21 straight points in the span of 4:51.
Jennings, a first-team All-Metro selection who has narrowed his college choice to 10 major programs, including Penn State, Ohio State, UCLA and Maryland, led the way, rushing for 142 yards on 25 carries, running for one touchdown and throwing for another.
Gilman took it to Good Counsel from the opening kickoff, driving 71 yards on seven plays, with Jennings darting through a seam to give the Greyhounds a 7-0 lead just 3 minutes into the game.
Though the Falcons pulled even on Zach Dancel's short touchdown pass, Gilman then pulled away through an improbable series of the event, leading to 21 straight points.
"It was crucial," Jones said. "They're not used to playing from behind a lot, so we just had to get out front -- come out and stomp on them a little bit -- make them play from behind and control the game."
First, Jones returned a kickoff return to near midfield, and a facemask penalty then moved the ball to the Falcons' 38. Two plays later, junior Kenny Goins burst through a gaping hole on the right side and sprinted 24 yards into the end zone.
On the kickoff that followed, tight end Chris McMaster then recovered Gilman's squib kick at the Good Counsel 38. Three plays later, Jennings faked the run and hit Jones in stride for a 28-yard touchdown pass.
Leading, 21-7, the Greyhounds seemed to be on the verge of another score when Jennings' pass was intercepted by Michael Jefferson deep in Falcons territory.
On the very next play, however, linebacker Devon Porchia picked off Dancel's attempted screen pass, returning it 30 yards down the far sideline to improbably extend the lead to three touchdowns.