Given the circumstances, Episcopal football coach Travis Bourgeois understood why his counterpart — Guy Mistretta of the Dunham School — pushed all his chips in the middle of the table and went for broke.
“They made a gutsy call going for two at the end,” Bourgeois said. “Probably, in this type of game, with both teams being exhausted, it was the right thing to do and I commend them for that.”
Bourgeois also had a heaping helping of praise for the play of his defense, engulfing Dunham quarterback Jyron Walker’s two-point running attempt well short of the goal line, enabling Episcopal to hold on to a pulsating 28-27 District 6-2A victory Thursday at EHS’ Memorial Field.
“Both teams were fighting until the end with a lot of heart and pride on the line,” Bourgeois said.
“They all left it on the field and both teams should be commended for playing their hearts out.”
Episcopal (7-0, 3-0) rallied from a 21-14 second-half deficit and snapped the third tie of the back-and-forth contest on Clement Mubuningirwa’s 5-yard touchdown with 3:04 remaining.
Dunham, which had its five-game win streak snapped, promptly drove 66 yards in six plays with Walker going 3-of-3 on the drive for 57 yards, including a 6-yarder to Chase Day on fourth down with 41 seconds to go.
Following consecutive timeouts from each team, Dunham (5-2, 3-1) shunned the prospect of going into overtime and put the ball in Walker’s hands. The quarterback tried to bounce a zone-read option outside of Episcopal’s defense but was swarmed under.
Senior linebacker Turner Graham secured the ensuing onside kick and quarterback Jason Roussel knelt twice for the Knights, who remained tied for the district lead with Capitol.
“They were inside our 10 a couple of times and we didn’t come close to stopping them with that power game they have,” Mistretta said. “We wanted to try and win it right there.
“We were looking at Drake (Davis) but they covered him up so it was either Jyron or (Jon Austin) Volland and he kept and they did a great job of defending.”
Episcopal relied on a crunching ground game that produced 261 yards on 46 carries, part of 386-yard offensive output.
Junior Clement Mubungirwa paced the Knights with 24 attempts for 133 yards and two TDs while TJ Wisham added 10 tries for 82 yards and a score.
Roussel completed 7 of 14 passes for 125 yards, including a key 47-yard completion to Spencer Kleinpeter on third-and-10 that set up Mubungirwa’s go-ahead 5-yard score.
Austin Couvillion provided what turned out to be the difference with his fourth extra point.
“They started stacking the box and we had to take a shot going downfield,” Bouregois said. “Fortunately, Jason put it in a spot where Spencer could make a nice catch on it.”
Dunham, which trailed 14-7 at halftime, gained 258 of its 318 yards in the second half with Walker completing 13 of 21 passes for 216 yards and a pair of scores.
Volland gained 76 of his team-high 105 yards in the second half, while Davis had five catches for 141 yards and a touchdown and Day three grabs for 90 yards and a score.
Dunham scored on its first two possessions of the third quarter, taking its first lead at 21-14 on Walker’s 74-yard touchdown pass to Davis at the 4:44 mark.
Episcopal built a 14-7 lead at the break with lenghty scoring drives of 90 and 81 yards, the second of which took 16 plays and consumed 8 minutes, 42 seconds with Mubungirwa capping the march from five yards out.
“It’s a credit to our guys for fighting for four quarters,” Bourgeois said.
“Both teams could have won this game. It was well executed, well played by both teams.”