No. 1 McDonogh made a strong case for keeping its spot atop the local prep football rankings on Friday night at No. 5 Calvert Hall.
The Eagles were that good in easily handling the No. 5 Cardinals, 35-7, in an Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference matchup that was never really close after unleashing a powerful ground game on a 14 play, 99-yard drive in the first quarter.
"That drive really set the tone right there," said Ellis McKennie, a 310-pound offensive lineman headed to Maryland next fall. "We knew we could ground and pound on them. It's really exciting when the ball is on the 1 (-yard line). It's really a challenge. We showed our grit."
McDonogh then then dominated play from that point forward to build a 20-0 halftime lead.
In the key series, sophomore running back Mylique McGriff did most of the damage on the ground before senior Nihgel Scott darted outside for 12 yards to cap the drive for a 7-0 advantage with 2:22 left in the first half.
Despite yielding all of that yardage on one drive, Calvert Hall's defense was resilient for most of the second period. That's when McDonogh started its next three possessions on the Cardinals' 10, 18 and 19 yard lines, respectively, and emerged with only six points on a pair of field goals by junior Mike Shinsky.
"Our kids played hard," said Calvert Hall coach Donald Davis, whose team fell to 4-2 and 1-1 in the conference after committing six turnovers. "But our offense just never got into synch. I think McDonogh had something to do with that."
Near halftime, however, the Eagles struck again on a 4-yard pass from junior quarterback Jansen Durham to senior wideout Michael Cornwell to go ahead, 20-0.
A clutch 24-yard pass from Durham to senior wideout Kareem Montgomery kept the drive alive before the scoring toss.
Meanwhile, Calvert Hall's offense did not pose much of a threat, netting a mere 38 yards total and reaching into enemy territory only once — to the McDonogh 47-yard line.
Special teams were a different story though, as Calvert Hall finally broke through on a 99-yard kickoff return by senior Dionte Austin to make it, 20-7, seconds after the intermission.
McDonogh answered that score with two of its own, both on McGriff runs of 6 and 17 yards, respectively to pull way out in front."
"We have a lot of really strong kids on the offensive line," McDonogh coach Dom Damico said. "And we have a fabulous defense. Our kids pride themselves how hard they work inn the weight room in the offseason. We have a good defense, too, but it will be even better when we get rid of some of the wrinkles."