While the skill-position players seem to grab all the headlines, the McDonogh offensive line made a case yesterday for all the down-and-dirty guys who toil in the trenches.
McDonogh's big and agile front put on a smash-mouth football clinic as junior running back E.J. Hamilton rammed his way for five touchdowns and 146 yards on 27 carries as the No. 11-ranked Eagles (2-0) overpowered third-ranked Mount St. Joseph, 42-22.
The host MIAA B Conference Eagles' alert defense and a costly gamble in the third period were also major factors in the victory over the A Conference Gaels (2-1).
Mt. St. Joe quarterback Joe Peeler had thrown for nine touchdowns in the first two games, and added two yesterday, but also was picked off four times. Junior defensive back Ryan Meehan had two of the interceptions.
"This is the first year since I've been here that we have a line and not that many skill guys," said McDonogh coach Dominic Damico.
"Usually we have a few skill and a lot of little linemen. They get off the ball really well and E.J. gives us unbelievable effort."
The play of tackles Kellen Williams (6 feet 4, 260 pounds) and Rich Aronson (6-4, 235), guards Matt Gielen (6-2, 230) and Rusty Mason (6-0, 230) and center Steve Clare (5-10, 230) was the difference.
"They just kicked our butts," said Gaels coach Mike Working.
"We put seven guys in there to jam it and make them throw the ball, but they still ran at us. They're athletic, not just fat guys."
After falling behind 14-0 in the first period, Mt. St. Joe put two scores on the board and went to halftime trailing 21-14.
Hamilton crashed in from the 2-yard line early in the third period to make it 28-14, setting the stage for a fatal gamble by the Gaels.
Faced with a fourth-and-18 on their own 23 and 7:29 left in the third, the Gaels faked a punt, but J.J. Outlaw managed only three yards on the run. Nine plays later, Hamilton went over from the 1 and Joe Benson's kick made it 35-14 with just over four minutes left in the third period.
"We did it against Gilman last year and went 51 yards," Working explained. "It's a great time to do it when you are backed up like that, but we just didn't block a guy on the trap."
Hamilton's 3-yard dive with 2:21 left in the third period put the game out of reach at 42-14.