After Gilman School kicked the extra point to secure a 13-0 first quarter lead against Mount St. Joseph Saturday afternoon, the Gaels slowly came off the field. It wasn’t what Mount St. Joseph envisioned, especially after nearly a decade-worth of losses.
But doubt quickly turned into confidence and years of frustration finally came to an end. The fourth-ranked Gaels posted a 34-20 decision over the No. 12 Greyhounds at Pleyvak Field in Irvington.
Senior quarterback Christian Carter threw 3 touchdowns and ran for another for Mount St. Joseph, and Sam James added a rushing score. Brandon Madison finished with 232 total yards for Gilman.
The Gaels (4-1 overall) ran off 34 unanswered points, winning their MIAA A Conference football opener. They did against the defending league champ Greyhounds (1-4, 0-1 MIAA A), who won the prior seven meetings.
“There was some doubt, you see players had their head down,” said Mount St. Joseph senior safety Ahmad McCullough. “Being a Mount St. Joseph Gael, we picked it right back up. When got back on the field, we said we’re going to get it right back.”
“We shook off the cockwebs and got past the Gilman mystique these guys been a part of the last few years,” said Mount St. Joseph coach Rich Holzer, whose team lost 30-7 to the Greyhounds in Roland Park last fall in a deluge.
Under rainy conditions Saturday, the Gaels found their offensive stride as Carter threw for 268 yards with scoring throws to junior wideouts Gary Agurs (3 yards), Matthew McDonald (17) and a 58-yarder to Keyshawn Hailey. Mount St. Joseph finished with 393 offensive yards.
“We started clicking offensively and the defense started going hard,” The said Carter, who completed 20 of 38 attempts. “We dominated the game.”
Gilman had control early as Madison took a screen pass and went 35 yards down the sidelines for a touchdown. The Greyhounds took their next possession 65 yards in seven plays, capped with Brandon Willis’ 2-yard scamper to the corner of the end zone.
After recovering a Gilman fumble, Mount St. Joseph got on track. Carter connected with Agurs (5 catches, 69 yards), completing a short 19-yard drive. The Gaels got great field position after the Greyhounds botched a punt attempt, and McDonald slipped around a Greyhound defender and ran into the end zone.
The lead grew to 21-13 as Carter (29 yards rushing) capped an 82-yard drive with a 7-yard scamper. The first-year starter accounted for 62 yards in the series, including 5-of-6 passing for 55 yards.
“We practiced that fast tempo,” said Carter. “We play how we practice.”
Hailey (6 catches, 113 yards) grabbed a Carter pass and sprinted down the sidelines for another Gaels score. James (78 yards) scored from 2 yards out, extending Mount St. Joseph’s lead to 34-13 late in third.
The Gaels’ defense, led by Justin Looney (sack and fumble recovery), McCullough (two sacks) and Darren Dunmoodie (interception and fumble recovery), kept Gilman off the board until the fourth quarter when Rob Levine scored on a 3-yard run. The Greyhounds were in a position to close the deficit after recovering a bad Mount St. Joseph’s punt snap at the Gaels’ 10, but were flagged for an illegal forward pass on 4th down.
After winning its opener, Gilman dropped its fourth straight decision (first time since 2003). The Greyhounds lost their first MIAA A opener since 2009.
“We made too many mistakes – turned the ball over, too many penalties, too many silly mistakes, pretty undisciplined,” said Gilman coach Tim Holley. “…When things aren’t going your way, you take a deep breath, regather and recommit. We’re going to commit to get better.”
For the second straight season, Mount St. Joseph won its opener in the area’s toughest league. The Gaels, No. 2 Spalding and 8th-ranked St. Frances Academy sit atop the MIAA A.
“We’re getting to a point now where we expect to be a good team,” said Holzer, whose team host Silver Oak Academy in its final non-league contest next Saturday before visiting No. 10 Loyola Blakefield in MIAA A play Oct. 14. “The guys are excited that they beat Gilman for the first time in a while, but they understand they need to be 1-0 each week.”
No. 4 Mount St. Joseph 34, No. 12 Gilman School 20
Gilman 13 0 0 7 – 20
Mount St. Joseph 0 21 13 0 – 34
Gilman – Brandon Madison 35 pass from Purnell Hill (run failed)
Gilman – Brandon Willis 4 run (Adero Mandala kick)
Mount St. Joseph – Gary Agurs 10 pass from Christian Carter (Ben Austin kick)
Mount St. Joseph – Matthew McDonald 14 pass from Carter (Austin kick)
Mount St. Joseph – Carter 7 run (Austin kick)
Mount St. Joseph – Keyshawn Hailey 56 pass from Carter (Austin kick)
Mount St. Joseph – Sam James 2 run (kick blocked)
Gilman – Levine 3 run (Mandala kick)