Trader pick seals deal

Cor­ner­back’s in­ter­cep­tion snuffs out Gaels’ last hope

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - VARSITY - By Kyle J. An­drews

No. 3 McDonogh ver­sus No. 2 Mount Saint Joseph was billed as a heavy­weight matchup be­tween two Mary­land In­ter­scholas­tic Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion foot­ball pow­ers.

Both de­fenses lived up to the hype Satur­day, with the Ea­gles reign­ing vic­to­ri­ous 14-7.

The game came down to the wire. Af­ter McDonogh’s Har­ri­son Beat­tie missed a field-goal at­tempt, Mount Saint Joseph had one last chance to drive the ball down the field. Dont’e Thorn­ton Jr. caught a pass deep in McDonogh ter­ri­tory, but just a few plays later Ea­gles cor­ner­back Dante Trader Jr. picked off quar­ter­back Billy Atkins to seal the win with seven sec­onds left.

“All week for Dante [Trader Jr.], we said ‘Hey, you’ve got to keep an eye out on Thorn­ton,’ ” McDonogh coach Ha­keem Sule said. “Ob­vi­ously, he’s their big play­maker. So we were able to dou­ble-team him. Thorn­ton, be­ing a hell of a player, still got a great catch there at the end.

“That put some pres­sure on us, but Dante is a play­maker and kept his head in the game. He was able to make up for it a cou­ple of plays later with the big in­ter­cep­tion.”

Each team made key de­fen­sive stops. Cur­tis Ja­cobs had two sacks and Dani Den­nis-Sut­ton one for McDonogh (8-0, 2-0 MIAA A Con­fer­ence). Mount Saint Joseph got a sack from Marlowe Wax Jr. and in­ter­cep­tions by de­fen­sive back Jabari Echols in the first quar­ter and de­fen­sive end Stephen Schulze in the fourth.

The game was score­less at the half. Af­ter re­ceiv­ing the sec­ond-half kick­off, McDonogh marched down the field on a 14-play drive that was capped by a rush­ing touch­down by Ja­cobs with 4:44 left in the third quar­ter.

At that point, Ja­cobs had played out­side line­backer, de­fen­sive end, wide re­ceiver, tight end and run­ning back for Sule.

“We have a re­ally good re­la­tion­ship,” Ja­cobs said. “He lis­tens to me, I lis­ten to him. I just told him wher­ever he needs me to play, I just go play it.

“I’m not re­ally big on sta­tus or do­ing any of that; I just want to win. I just told him at the be­gin­ning of the sea­son, ‘Wher­ever you need me to play, I got it.’ ”

In the fourth quar­ter, Mount Saint Joseph mounted a come­back at­tempt af­ter Schulze’s in­ter­cep­tion in McDonogh ter­ri­tory. Wax capped the drive with a 1-yard rush­ing touch­down to tie the game at 7-7 with 7:31 left.

Un­for­tu­nately for the Gaels, the Ea­gles soared ahead for good on a touch­down pass from Pre­ston Howard to Trader with just 2:43 left in the game.

“We had a shot at the end there,” Mount Saint Joseph coach Rich Holzer said. “We made a nice play, but we just couldn’t fin­ish the drive, that’s all.

“McDonogh is a good team. We just made too many mis­takes to­day.”

McDonogh has com­pletely turned it­self around af­ter fin­ish­ing last sea­son with a 3-6 record. The Ea­gles will take on Arch­bishop Spald­ing on Fri­day at 7 p.m. on Se­nior Night to con­tinue their turn­around sea­son.

“The crazy thing is, since last year we knew this was go­ing to be the re­sult,” Ja­cobs said. “We just kept try­ing to speak it into ex­is­tence, play it into ex­is­tence, and we’re just try­ing to keep rolling with it. We want to take this to a cham­pi­onship, and we’re try­ing to do some­thing special.”

Mount Saint Joseph (6-2, 2-1 MIAA) will take on Bal­ti­more County’s Class 3A leader Franklin (6-1) on Satur­day at 1 p.m.

KARL MERTON FERRON/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

McDonogh wide re­ceiver Dante Trader Jr. pre­pares to catch a pass in front of Mount Saint Joseph’s Jor­dan Oliver on Satur­day.

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