McDonogh football coach Dom Damico had a legitimate reason to be concerned Saturday against No. 13 St. Frances.
After six consecutive blowouts, the No. 4 Eagles led by only eight points at halftime before pulling away for a 28-6 victory in an Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference game at Patterson Park’s Utz Field.
“They are a really strong, aggressive and physical team and you have to get used to that pace,” Damico said. “We weren’t. We got into gear as we started moving the ball.”
McDonogh senior Syl Brown rushed for 196 yards and three touchdowns.
The Eagles (8-0 overall, 3-0 league) needed that type of performance from Brown with injuries hampering others backs.
“Our running backs were dinged up all week,” Damico said of Justin Hawkins and Alex Hurdle, who was hurt in last week's victory over Calvert Hall. “[Brown] was big for us. He gives you tough inside-the-box running and breakaway speed. He has that rare combination. He is getting looked at by a lot of [Football Championship Subdivision] schools.”
Before Brown got McDonogh rolling, St. Frances (3-5, 1-3) jumped out to a 6-0 lead.
Linebacker Ryan Marine recovered a fumble on the second play of the game at the McDonogh 35-yard line.
Five plays later, Quantaye Battle hit Maurice Williams in the right corner of the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown.
The Eagles moved 69 yards in 14 plays on their next drive, which and Brown (101 yards in first half) capped with a 3-yard touchdown run up the middle.
Brown boosted McDonogh’s lead to 13-6 with 5:31 left in the second quarter on a 2-yard run up the middle.
St. Frances threatened to score right before the half, but McDonogh senior cornerback Joshua Woods broke up a pass in the back of the end zone intended for Khalil Stanfield on 4th-and-8.
Woods also had an interception early third quarter, which set up McDonogh’s third touchdown, a 27-yard touchdown pass from Jansen Durham to Kareem Montgomery.
Brown finished the scoring with a 14-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.
In the middle of the final quarter, St. Frances coach Messay Hailemariam moved Battle to wide receiver and inserted David Bryant at quarterback.
It didn’t help the Panthers.
“I think McDonogh capitalized off our mistakes,” said Hailemariam, whose team moved up from the C Conference this season. “Interceptions and penalties. Even the big runs they had, our guys weren’t in the true technique they were suppose to be in. We just have to make those plays.”
No. 4 McDonogh 28, No. 13 St. Frances 6
M 7 7 7 7 -- 28
SF 6 0 0 0 -- 6
SF — Willliams 20 pass from Battle (kick failed)
M — Brown 3 run (Supovitz kick)
M — Brown 2 run (Supovitz kick)
M — Montgomery 27 pass from Durham (Supovitz kick)
M — Brown 14 run (Supovitz kick)