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Mount St. Joseph Gaels defensive end Stephen Schulze grabs linebacker Brandon Fique (48), who celebrates after recovering a fumble by McDonogh Eagles quarterback Preston Howard in the end zone for a touchdown during the second quarter of the 2019 MIAA A Conference football championship at Archbishop Spalding High School Sat., Nov. 16, 2019. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun Staff)
Mount St. Joseph Gaels defensive end Stephen Schulze grabs linebacker Brandon Fique (48), who celebrates after recovering a fumble by McDonogh Eagles quarterback Preston Howard in the end zone for a touchdown during the second quarter of the 2019 MIAA A Conference football championship at Archbishop Spalding High School Sat., Nov. 16, 2019. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun Staff) (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

Mount Saint Joseph and McDonogh battled in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship game Saturday night with the Gaels spoiling McDonogh’s perfect season.

In a game where the defenses ruled, Marlowe Wax Jr. ran for one touchdown, Brandon Fique recovered a fumble in the end zone and Scott Martin kicked a field goal as No. 3 Mount Saint Joseph defeated No. 2 McDonogh, 17-10, at Archbishop Spalding.

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It was the first title for the Gaels since they shared the title with two other teams 12 years ago.

McDonogh (11-1) posted a 14-7 victory over Mount Saint Joseph (10-2) when the teams met in the regular season, and this was a similar game — hard-hitting and low-scoring.

Both teams struggled on offense, especially McDonogh, which lost starting quarterback Preston Howard to a concussion early in the third quarter to an injury. That limited the Eagles as they kept making mistakes — fumbles and penalties — and weren’t able to break plays for long gains.

"It was like who was going to land the knockout punch,'' St. Joe coach Rich Holzer said. “Our defense played great all year and [tonight] they were outstanding. They just absolutely controlled the line of scrimmage.”

The Mount St. Joseph Gaels rush toward their fans in celebration during the 2019 MIAA A Conference football championship at Archbishop Spalding High School Sat., Nov. 16, 2019. The Gaels prevailed, 17-10. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun Staff)
The Mount St. Joseph Gaels rush toward their fans in celebration during the 2019 MIAA A Conference football championship at Archbishop Spalding High School Sat., Nov. 16, 2019. The Gaels prevailed, 17-10. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun Staff) (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

Neither team could move the ball in the first quarter, which ended in a scoreless tie. McDonogh began the second quarter stuck deep in its own territory but Howard soon changed that.

On the second play of that second period, Mount Saint Joseph came up with pressure on the quarterback. Howard rolled right and suddenly broke free, running for a 75-yard touchdown along the right sideline.

Harrison Beattie added the extra point for an early 7-0 Eagles’ lead — but it didn’t last long.

On the next McDonogh series, the Gaels sacked Howard and the ball was stripped inside the 10-yard line. It rolled into the end zone where Fique recovered for a touchdown. Martin’s extra point tied it with 7:53 left in the half.

The Gaels then took the lead on their next possession, with the help of a few McDonogh penalties. Martin came through with a 34-yard field goal with 2:57 left that gave Mount Saint Joseph a 10-7 lead it carried into halftime.

Both teams moved the ball at times in the first two quarters, but neither could establish a consistent running attack with each squad being hurt by penalties.

“We just had to play our game,” Wax said. "I love our defense. We knew what we were going to see. It felt as though the defense played great.

McDonogh suffered a big loss on the first series of the second half when Howard was hurt while running for a loss of four. He was down for a few moments and left the field under his own power but did not return.

Kris Jenner, who started last year for the Eagles, came in to replace Howard but also had problems making the offense move. The Gaels and McDonogh gained some yardage in the third quarter but the score remained at 10-7 when the period ended.

Mount Saint Joseph found some breathing room with a drive that started late in the third quarter. Another McDonogh penalty hurt the Eagles and gave the Gaels the ball at the 20-yard line. Wax ran for a touchdown on the next play for a 17-7 lead 15 seconds into the fourth quarter.

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McDonogh was able to cut the lead to 17-10 when Beattie kicked a 43-yard field goal with 8:26 left. The Eagles had a few more chances to tie but could not pull it off, and the Gaels walked away with the title.

Mount Saint Joseph’s Dont’e Thornton missed the game with a collarbone injury.

MSJ - 0; 10; 0; 7; - 17

MCD - 0; 7; 0; 3; - 10

MC -- Howard 75 run (Beattie kick)

MS -- Fique fumble recovery in end zone (Martin kick)

MS -- Martin 34 FG

MS --Wax 20 run (Martin kick)

MC --Beattie 43 FG

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