Establishing a rushing attack is more often than not vital to success in football, but with a quarterback like Joe Benson, the ground game is not always necessary as host Calvert Hall found out yesterday.
Benson, The Sun's Offensive Player of the Year last season as a junior, passed for two touchdowns and ran for one as top-ranked McDonogh routed the Cardinals, 30-7, at Paul Angelo Russo Stadium.
McDonogh (3-0) had only 17 yards rushing in the first half, but Benson completed nine of 12 passes for 173 yards and scoring passes of 35 and 33 yards to Eddie Dolch and Scott Robinson, respectively. With 2:43 remaining in the first half, Benson hurdled two defenders to cap a 6-yard touchdown run to give McDonogh a 23-0 lead.
"Joe is special, has a professional body and the mind of a professional quarterback, who understands what we're trying to do and can apply it, " said Eagles coach Dom Damico of the 6-foot-5, 205-pound Benson, who finished 13-for-19 for 222 yards.
The game marked the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference opener for both teams, but for the Eagles, it marked their elevation from the B Conference.
On the Eagles' second scoring drive that covered 80 yards in 10 plays, Benson completed five straight passes, three of them to Dave Ginsberg. A 45-yard pass to Ginsberg (four receptions, 87 yards) set up Benson's touchdown run.
Calvert Hall had little success, producing 139 yards of total offense.
Cardinals running back Marques Thompson led all ball carriers in the first half with 33 of his team's 47 rushing yards. But he injured his right ankle with 1:34 left in the first quarter and his team on the McDonogh 9.
Calvert Hall ended up missing a field goal on the drive and its top offensive threat never returned.
Quarterback Andrew Goldbeck (5-for-12, 59 yards) was harassed all afternoon by the Eagles' pass rush led by senior linebacker Shomari Taylor, who had three of his team's six sacks.