It did not come easy, but No. 15 DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) survived a tough test from McDonogh (Owings Mills, Md.) Friday night with a 17-14 victory in Landover, Md.
Last year, DeMatha beat McDonogh by a 49-28 count. This time around, it wasn’t nearly as lopsided a victory for the Stags. After trailing 14-7 at the half, DeMatha (3-1) scored the game’s final 10 points and did not allow a first down on defense in the second half to clinch victory.
After a late McDonogh defensive stand in the red zone, a Joey Hood 22-yard field goal with 5:54 to play gave DeMatha the 17-14 lead that it didn’t relinquish.
A running into the punter call on McDonogh in the closing minutes gave DeMatha the ball back, and the Stags clinched the narrow win.
That late field goal provided the Stags with their first lead of the game since DeMarcco Helems made a pretty TD catch on a 16-yard pass from senior quarterback Ty Lenhart to put the hosts up 7-0.
Lenhart had suffered a sprained knee in last week’s 36-0 win over Franklin (Reisterstown, Md.), but looked ready to go in this one.
The rest of the first half, though, was the DeJuan Ellis show. The Virginia Tech-bound McDonogh quarterback tied the game at 7-7 when he scored on a 2-yard bootleg with 1:08 to go in the first quarter, capping a 75-yard drive.
After the teams traded defensive stops, McDonogh went ahead late in the second quarter when Ellis scampered in from 12 yards out. To get into DeMatha territory, he had hit BJ Farrare for a 48-yard connection.
Trailing 14-7 at halftime, DeMatha still struggled to get anything going on offense after trading turnovers. That changed with under three minutes to play, when Lenhart scored from a yard out to cap a five-play, 28-yard drive.
The Hood field goal sealed the win after a dominant second-half defensive performance by the Stags.
DeMatha will face Friendship Collegiate Academy (Washington, DC) next Friday night at Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex.