The statistics said this was Mount St. Joseph's game. The big plays and defense said it was McDonogh's.
McDonogh quarterback Bobby Sabelhaus threw a 90-yard touchdown pass to Dennis Badham with 5:36 left, and the Eagles' defense made it stand up for a 15-14 victory over visiting St. Joe in a Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference game yesterday.
St. Joe (5-3, 5-2) finished with 265 total yards and 13 first downs, while McDonogh (5-3, 4-3) ended up with 73 yards and one first down, and it came on a penalty. St. Joe also crossed midfield eight times, but scored just once on offense as the Eagles' defense repeatedly stiffened.
"That's the style of football we play," said McDonogh coach Mike Working, whose team has won its five games by a total of 17 points. "If we can stay close, we'll win in the fourth quarter."
That's what happened yesterday. The 90-yard touchdown pass represented practically the lone success offensively for McDonogh. When the Eagles took over on their 10-yard line in the fourth quarter, they had minus-28 yards total offense.
Sabelhaus, the area's leading passer who completed only four of 18 for 110 yards, then hit Badham racing down the sideline in front of the McDonogh bench. Badham went untouched for the score. Rob Allen added the deciding extra point.
"We knew we could probably beat them on the [play]," said Badham. "I was just glad the line gave Bobby time."
That was the Eagles' third try at the play they call '50-Go.' Badham dropped the first, and a penalty nullified a 43-yard completion the second time.
The defense kept McDonogh in the game while the offense struggled. The front line of Andrew Osborne, Rob Seidel, Vikas Varma and Tim Yeager made big plays when necessary, especially in its end of the field, and the Eagles recorded five sacks.
"Our defense has played well all year," said Working. "They did what they had to to win."
The first thing the defense needed was a big play in the first half. Trailing, 7-0, McDonogh free safety Dwayne Stukes grabbed a tipped pass near the St. Joe sideline. He then sliced across the field, raced through several St. Joe players and a rainstorm for a 92-yard touchdown. Sabelhaus found Jeremy Sieple for the two-point conversion and an 8-7 lead with 9:11 left in the half.
"I looked to the right and saw a whole bunch of people," said Stukes, son of former Baltimore Colt Charlie Stukes. "So, I broke it to the left."
St. Joe then marched downfield two more times in the quarter, but came up empty.
"We're building, we're working very hard," said St. Joe coach Tim Perry. "I feel bad for [St. Joe.] Today, I saw a class act out there in [McDonogh]."