Cardinal O’Hara wide receiver Thaddius Smith can’t hold on to what would have been a touchdown pass in the second half of Friday’s game
Cardinal O'Hara wide receiver Thaddius Smith can't hold on to what would have been a touchdown pass in the second half of Friday's game against Roman Catholic.

MARPLE — It wasn't the first time a Roman Catholic football team had come to Cardinal O'Hara and put its trust — and the football — in the hands of a back named Kelly.

Two years ago, it was Marcus Kelly rolling up 320 yards on the ground as the Cahillites handed the Lions a Catholic League inter-division setback.

Friday night, Marcus' younger brother, Dmetri Kelly, a 6-0, 200-pound junior, was called on for 38 carries, which resulted in 252 yards rushing and three touchdowns as Roman (3-4) claimed a 30-19 decision over O'Hara (2-5).

The visitors attempted only four passes and none were complete. All of Roman's 285 yards of total offense came on the ground, and Kelly was responsible for 88 percent of that total.

Cardinal O’Hara wide receiver Chris Covin, left, hauls in a pass in front of Roman Catholic’s Mike McCaul Friday.
Cardinal O'Hara wide receiver Chris Covin, left, hauls in a pass in front of Roman Catholic's Mike McCaul Friday. (Robert J. Gurecki)

"The (wet) conditions had a lot to do with us doing what we did,' Roman head coach Joe McCourt said.

"For us, this was the classic trap game. We came here after a big (Catholic League Class AAAA) win over (Archbishop) Ryan last week, and we have La Salle next week. We knew (O'Hara) was better than a 2-4 team, and we're happy to come down here and get this win.'

The host Lions took the opening kickoff and moved to the Roman 35 when disaster struck. Lamont Veal was separated from the ball on a third-down carry, and Roman linebacker Kabir Basil grabbed it and took off without stopping until he had reached the end zone 62 yards later.

Veal came right back with a 40-yard kickoff return that put the Lions in Cahillite territory. This time, O'Hara used six plays to get six points, with a Dashawn Darden pass to Thaddius Smith covering the last five yards. Steve Weyler's conversion kick went wide, leaving the Lions a point behind.

Kelly then carried the ball five times on Roman's next six snaps, picking up a scoring run of 5 yards after a 40-yard dash and another six-point effort that covered 52 yards.

"We knew we'd have to keep running the ball,' Kelly said. "We knew we were playing a tough team, and they wouldn't give up. But we kept working at it.'

Darden sprinted 41 yards for the first of two O'Hara TDs in the second quarter, then, after a delay of game penalty and incompletion forced Roman to punt, the Lions needed only one play to cover 63 yards for another touchdown as Darden hit Smith on the fly and the speedy senior did the rest, outracing a defender to the end zone.

"They were pressing me, and I knew I could take (the defensive back) off the line,' Smith said. "But then that third quarter really hurt us. (Kelly) is a good back, and they just wouldn't give the ball up in the third quarter.'

O'Hara kicked off to start the second half, and Roman ran the ball 14 times without throwing. When Smith banged over from less than a yard away, the Cahillites had knocked 8 minutes and 9 seconds off the clock as they stretched their advantage to nine points (28-19).

The Lions would snap the ball only 15 times in the second half, with two of those plays punts and one a bad snap with 3:24 left that sailed past Darden and was recovered in the end zone for a safety.

A 13-yard Darden to Chris Colvin completion was the biggest gain in a pair of quarters in which O'Hara ended up with minus-13 yards total offense. The biggest play for the visitors was made by senior linebacker James LeBold, who sacked Darden for a 17-yard loss on a third-down snap from the Roman 18 seven plays after Darden just missed a diving Smith in the end zone.

"I dove for it, but I ended up getting the wind knocked out of me,' Smith said of the play on which he got open but couldn't hold Darden's toss.

"We've got (Bonner-Prendergast) next week, and that's a (Catholic League AAA) game for us. So we've got to get past what happened here and come back ready to play.'