High School sports

No. 11 Concordia Prep football holds No. 3 McDonogh scoreless in second half in 26-7 upset

With 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the McDonogh football team pushed to the Concordia Prep 5-yard line. Trailing 20-7 and needing a score to inspire any hope of a comeback with time dwindling, the Eagles had four tries to punch it into the end zone.

First, an incomplete pass on a fade to Jefferson Exinor. Next, Chase Green was stopped short in his dash to the right pylon. Then, an incomplete pass to Santino Sanchez.


On fourth down with only a few yards between McDonogh and a touchdown, the Concordia Prep defense sent a blitz. Multiple rushers got to quarterback Braeden Palazzo quickly, forcing an off-balance incompletion to cap a goal line stand that kept the Saints up two possessions.

After entering halftime down 7-6, Concordia Prep fired out of the break to quickly get a two-score advantage. Holding the McDonogh offense scoreless in the second half, No. 11 Concordia Prep upset the No. 3 Eagles, 26-7, on Thursday afternoon in a game between last year’s Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference runner-up and B Conference champion.


“I love intense games,” Concordia Prep quarterback Jordan Brooks said. “I love seeing our backs against the wall because whenever our backs are against the wall, I know we’re gonna come out on top, because that’s what our coach prepares us to do all week at practice. People saw us lose Week 1 to Gilman and they forgot about Concordia Prep.”

The Eagles, with their size and speed advantage, flashed their strengths early. Two of the Saints’ first three offensive possessions culminated in negative yardage thanks to an overpowering McDonogh front. An end-around handoff-turned-wide receiver pass for a long touchdown was the only way Concordia Prep’s offense successfully moved the ball.

“We had to get some knots out,” Brooks said.

Although the McDonogh offense worked efficiently, self-inflicted mistakes held it back from finding the end zone more than once. Palazzo found Sanchez for a 14-yard score on the Eagles’ first possession, but unforced errors set in from there.

On their next two drives, holding and false start penalties killed promising scoring chances. On the next, Keshawn Mister intercepted Palazzo on the drive’s first play, the freshman signal-caller’s first true mistake.

But on its last drive before halftime, McDonogh (1-2) appeared to be erasing what plagued it up until then. Two long Green runs, both going for first downs, jump-started the drive. The running back moved the chains again on fourth down, and a 20-yard Palazzo pass got the Eagles to the goal line.

With the clock ticking down, however, Palazzo scrambled to get his team set in time. The half ended before McDonogh could get a last chance to grow its lead and entered halftime having failed to score since its opening possession.

“They got out to a nice little start,” Concordia Prep coach Joe Battaglia said. “But we knew that we were going to be there at the end.”


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What started as a defensive battle flipped into an offensive eruption in the second half. Concordia Prep (2-1) added two quick scores on its first two possessions out of the break, highlighted by a long catch and run on a slant from the Saints’ own side of the field.

The outburst stretched Concordia Prep’s lead to 20-7.

“I’ve been working with my receivers all summer,” Brooks said. “I didn’t expect nothing else. When you work with the people that you play with, you get the outcome that you want.”

And as the Saints’ offense found their rhythm, so too did their defense. A unit that was gashed by Green and the Eagles’ running game in the first quarter slowed McDonogh’s progress on the ground and got to Palazzo with more frequency in the second half.

Down two scores as the third quarter ended, McDonogh had its best chance to end its drought and put points on the board for the first time since the first quarter. That’s when the Concordia Prep defense stiffened up to all but seal the victory, but they weren’t done yet.

The Saints separated even wider, scoring again on the ensuing possession for their third touchdown of the second half. With an offense that at first looked overmatched before eventually breaking through and a defense that suffocated McDonogh after its first score, Concordia Prep completed the upset.


“We talk a lot about adversity here,” Battaglia said. “We live for those moments. We want to be challenged. When we’re up against a wall, that’s when we’re at our best. That proved it right there.”