Eagles start well, fall short
Untimely mistakes turn momentum as McDonogh falls to top WCAC team
McDonogh coach Dom Damico told his players after their 49-28 loss to DeMatha on Friday night that the Stags were probably the best team the Eagles had ever played.
Early on, No. 1 McDonogh got the better of the No. 4 team in USA Today’s Super 25, but a few key mistakes turned the momentum, and DeMatha (4-0) ran right over the Eagles through the middle of the game. The Stags scored on their first six drives.
In the clash of the No. 1 team in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference and the No. 1 team in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, McDonogh moved the ball 75 yards on the game’s first drive and scored on Mylique McGriff’s 2-yard run.
On DeMatha’s ensuing drive, BJ Farrare intercepted Stags quarterback Beau English and raced 70 yards to the end zone, but there was a flag back at the line of scrimmage. Two Eagles penalties — for roughing the passer and for unsportsmanlike conduct — negated that touchdown.
“It hurts to get any touchdown called back, especially in a game like this,” said McDonogh senior offensive lineman Jordan McNair. “This is a good team, so you want to score as much as possible. Of course, you want to win, but you just can’t have the little mistakes.”
DeMatha took advantage of its rejuvenated drive and English finished it with a 2-yard touchdown run to tie the game.
The Eagles needed just seconds to take back the lead after Damico dipped into his bag of tricks and called an option pass. Quarterback DeJuan Ellis threw the ball to wide receiver Marquis Thornes, who hit Jack Simmons in stride for a 75-yard touchdown and a 14-7 lead with 5:17 left in the first quarter.
Even though the three-time defending WCAC champs answered on Khory Spruill’s 3-yard run to tie the game at 14 with 49.8 seconds left in the first quarter, McDonogh was still in it — until its next drive.
The Eagles managed to move the ball just 21 yards to their own 41-yard line, so they set up to punt on fourth-and-11. The snap sailed over the punter’s head and he fell on the ball at the McDonogh 2.
Spruill ran it in and the Stags scored three more unanswered touchdowns, capped by Spruill’s third of the night, a 4-yard run to extend the lead to 42-14 with 5:30 left in the third quarter.
“We’ve got to eliminate all those penalties, all those breakdowns.” Damico told his players after the game. “If they’re eliminated, we can have a really good ballclub and we can win out.”
The Eagles struggled to stop DeMatha’s run most of the night, something they knew could be a problem. Even though the Stags lost their best running back, Anthony McFarland, to a broken leg in a preseason scrimmage, Spruill easily carried the load with help from sophomore Myles Miree.
“Our guys up front, once they get into the rhythm blocking, they’re pretty good,” DeMatha coach Elijah Brooks said. “We have backs that run downhill and those guys get some tough yardage, and they wear on people. As long as we don’t turn the ball over, we’re usually in pretty good shape, so I’m really happy with our running game today.”
McDonogh rallied late in the game, scoring after a couple of interceptions when Brooks put his backup quarterback in the game. Farrare returned one 60 yards for a touchdown and Wayne Sharpe’s set up another short touchdown run for McGriff.
Then Brooks brought back English, who has committed to Air Force, for the final drive, and he completed the scoring on a 1-yard run with 4:32 to go.
The Eagles, ranked No. 3 in the state media poll while the Stags are No. 1, will get their chance for revenge when the two meet again next fall at DeMatha’s home field at the Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex in Landover.
DeMatha coach Elijah Brooks talks with one of his coaches. The Stags are No. 1 in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference.