Although Ed Reed may have taken his big playmaking ability to the Houston Texans, the McDonogh football team may have found a young junior playmaker from Baltimore that would make the former Baltimore Ravens safety proud.
Junior Kareem Montgomery had two interceptions and returned a fumble 45 yards for a touchdown as McDonogh built a 21-0 halftime lead on the way to a 28-14 victory in the Eagles season opener against Bishop O’Connell (1-1).
“Kareem is a really, really talented athlete,” McDonogh coach Dom Damico said. “He has great hand-eye coordination, great ball skills and phenomenal quickness.”
Montgomery’s first pick came off of a deflection by teammate Eric Burrell and it nearly led to a score, but McDonogh’s ensuing drive came a half yard short on a fourth-down sweep by sophomore quarterback Jansen Durham.
Durham thought he caught the pylon on his way to the end zone, but he didn’t let him phase him the next time the Eagles got the ball in enemy territory after another Montgomery theft.
His fourth and goal fade pass from the eight landed safely in the arms of Michael Cornwell for the first score of the game and 7-0 after Ross Supovitz’s extra points with 4:07 left in the first quarter.
McDonogh scored on its next possession and made it 14-0 after a 31-yard completion after a stop and go route by Joshua Woods set up a 4-yards strike in traffic from Durham to Woods.
“I trust our guys to go out and make the plays,” said Durham, who played five games at quarterback as a freshman.
Damico like to see the confidence in the 6-foot-1, 160-pound slinger from Howard County who was 14-for-20 for 128 yards.
“He was a little bit green and a little bit nervous last year, but I think this year he’s got a lot of confidence and he’s got a lot of talent so with that confidence, I think some big plays for will come for him,” Damico said. “He’s much more poised and I think he’s getting better every week.”
The third Eagle score of the half came after a short completion from Bishop O’Connell junior quarterback Michael Galvin to Marquise Rowe.
Wyatt Cook and Akeem Myers Blakney stripped the ball right into the arms of Montgomery who raced 45 yards untouched for a score.
“Two weeks ago we working on fumble recoveries and we worked picking the balls up and on stripping them,” said Montgomery, who watched teammate Justin Hawkins get a strip and recovery in the second half.
“We pulled that ball out a few times which was really good by our defense,” Damico said. “The kid was fighting for yards and exposed the ball and we were popping it out and pulling it out.”
McDonogh rode the running game of senior Syl Brown (20 carries, 117 yards) the rest of the way and Brown added a touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 6-yard run with 6:29 left making it 28-0.
Galvin (20-for-35. 237 yards) tossed a touchdown pass of seven yards to Michael Li with 5:02 left and another 47 yards to Rowe with 1:40 remaining for the game’s final touchdowns.
“It was a great job by our defense, except for those last two drives when we were tired,” Damico said.
McDonogh 14 7 0 7 — 28
Bishop O’Connell 0 0 0 14 — 14
M—Cornwell 8 pass from Durham (Supovitz kick)
M—Woods 1 pass from Durham (Supovitz kick)
M—Montgomery 45 fumble return (Supovitz kick)
M— Brown 6 run (Supovitz kick)
B—Li 7 pass from Galvan (Kelly kick)
B—Rowe 47 pass from Galvan (Kelly kick)