This time, McDonogh didn't need any late heroics from its offense to stay undefeated. The defense took care of that yesterday -- when it was needed most.
Interceptions by Martius Harding and Dwayne Stukes and a fumble recovery by Mike Working on St. Mary's last three possessions enabled the No. 4 Eagles to escape with a 14-10 win over the Saints in the Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference opener for both teams.
McDonogh out-gained the visiting Saints, 142-4, in the first quarter, thanks largely to touchdown passes from Bobby Sabelhaus of 50 and 47 yards to Dennis Badham. On both receptions, Badham gathered the ball along the right sideline and broke a tackle to score.
But McDonogh would be silenced after that, unlike last week, when Sabelhaus connected with Stukes for a 49-yard score with 4:03 left to beat St. Paul's, 7-6.
The Eagles (3-0) lost 7 yards combined in the second and third quarters, but gained 86 in the fourth. Jeff Miyamoto ran for 45 yards in the second half, and Mike Working had 21.
The Saints finished with 250 yards, but six turnovers killed any hopes of an upset and left them only with a moral victory for outplaying McDonogh the last three quarters.
"St. Mary's did a really good job of coming after us," said McDonogh coach Mike Working. "We got a little satisfied with where we were and we sort of went to sleep. Emotionally, we tried to get it back and we had a hard time doing it."
With junior Brad Davis (19-for-30, 176 yards) starting to connect from short range, the Saints picked up their initial first down with 9:24 left in the first half, and they scored on a 1-yard pass from Davis to Ryan Hughes with 1:32 remaining.
St. Mary's (3-1) had a chance to cut further into the lead before halftime, but Mark Kiefer's 43-yard field-goal attempt was blocked by senior Mike Layden. Kiefer would get redemption early in the fourth quarter, however, when he made a 44-yarder. That was the last St. Mary's possession that didn't end with a turnover.
The Saints drove to McDonogh's 9 when Harding intercepted Davis' pass on the goal line. After a McDonogh punt, Stukes picked off Davis' pass and returned it to St. Mary's 15, but the Saints regained possession when Jim Brown recovered a fumble in the Eagles' end zone.
Given a last chance, St. Mary's drove to McDonogh's 32 when Working pounced on a fumbled snap with 1:16 left.
"I told the kids that after the first quarter we played very well and I'm proud of them," said St. Mary's coach Brad Best, whose team moved up from the C Conference this year. "We'd make a turnover, then we'd come back. We've just got to learn to finish it off."
Sabelhaus had thrown for 327 yards in two games, but with a heavy pass rush from the Saints and some big plays in the secondary by junior Mike Pagliaro, he completed seven of 19 passes for 104 yards and was sacked four times.