High School Football

Duncanville flexes its muscles, Panthers send St. John’s back to D.C. with a loss

St. John’s College High School made the 1,300-mile trip from Washington D.C. to Duncanville on Saturday night in a matchup of two of the top football teams in the nation.

The Cadets are going back to the nation’s capital with a loss.

Wide receiver Roderick Daniels and running back Trysten Smith scored two touchdowns apiece during Duncanville’s 35-14 victory.

“We knew it was going to be a big game. It wasn’t a state game, it wasn’t going to hurt us,” said Daniels, who finished with eight catches for 134 yards. “This was just a statement to the state and to the nation.”

SJC (2-2), which is ranked as the No. 16 team in the country according to MaxPreps, tied the game at 14 two minutes into the third quarter on a 61-yard TD run by Colby McDonald.

But the Panthers (3-0), No. 5, responded on the ensuing drive when 4-star Texas commit Ja’Quinden Jackson found Daniels for a 39-yard TD. Jackson, who finished with 295 yards total, ran in a 29-yard TD to put Duncanville up 28-14 late in the quarter.

Smith, who ran for 110 yards, added his second TD rush, from 15 yards, early in the fourth.

“People always say we don’t play anyone good, but we just played someone ranked high in the nation and it showed,” Daniels said.

The Duncanville Panthers running onto the field.

Duncanville took the opening drive 75 yards on 10 plays. Smith, who is committed to Central Arkansas, scored on a 7-yard TD run with 8:16 left in the first quarter. The drive was highlighted by a 38-yard pass from Jackson to Marquelan Crowell on a third-and-9.

SJC, which made its first trip to Texas, was forced to punt on its first drive, but the Cadets came back to tie the game at 7 on their second possession.

Quarterback Sol-Jay Maiava, a 3-star BYU commit, threw a 41-yard TD to McDonald, who made two defenders miss down the Duncanville sideline.

The Panthers, who are the top-ranked team in Class 6A according to Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, gained a 14-7 lead on the ensuing drive when Jackson hit Daniels for a 48-yard TD just nine seconds into the second quarter.

SJC was in great position to tie the game with a 16-play and seven-minute drive, but its fourth-down pass attempt was incomplete in the end zone.

The Cadets had another opportunity late in the first half, but three straight passes went incomplete to end the drive at the Duncanville 18.

“Everyone has been great to us, but for our schedule, every week is big,” said SJC coach Joe Casamento, who has IMG Academy (Florida) and Mater Dei (California) in the next two weeks. “We signed up to be challenged. I didn’t want one easy game.”

Duncanville outgained SJC 431-299. Jackson was 13 of 22 for 221 yards.

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Born and raised in Hawaii, Brian Gosset graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in journalism before coming to Texas in 2014. He’s covered high school sports — yes, pretty much every high school sport — for the Star-Telegram ever since.