Resurgent McDonogh shuts down No. 2 Spalding for MIAA A football title shot; Egbe has TD, key INT (VIDEO HERE!)

Seniors Dani Dennis-Sutton and Stefan Egbe answered the call for McDonogh football Friday. Dennis-Sutton led a dogged defensive effort while Egbe scored the game’s lone touchdown and had a big interception in the fourth quarter as the fifth-ranked Eagles upset previously undefeated and No. 2 Archbishop Spalding to advance to next weekend’s MIAA A Conference championship game.

by Trevor Colgan

Special to VSN

Stefan Egbe hit the ground after carrying the ball in the fourth quarter of Friday’s MIAA A Conference football semifinal. He popped up confident he got the first down. 

His confidence never wavered as the chain crew came out on the turf at Archbishop Spalding’s Whittles Field. Holding a 7-0 lead with three minutes remaining, a potential upset practically hinged on this decision.

The chain was stretched to the spot where Egbe and the ball landed. The referee carefully examined the stick to the nose of the ball. 

He turned and motioned first down. Egbe and the Eagles all but secured the biggest upset of the MIAA A season. 

No. 5 McDonogh defeated previously undefeated and second-ranked Archbishop Spalding, 7-0, to advance to next weekend’s league championship game, either at Whittles Field or Calvert Hall College’s Russo Stadium.

“This is the same field we lost on two years ago in the championship,” Egbe said. “In the same jersey we wore that day, it’s like a do-over.”

It was a do-over two years in the making. Two years ago, McDonogh came to Whittles Field, looking to win the title and capped a perfect season.

Final score: Mount St. Joseph 17, McDonogh 10. The Eagles did not play in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, after starting the season 1-4, McDonogh (6-5 overall) has a chance to finally get redemption.

“For these guys to get another opportunity to play another week of football, it’s a blessing,” coach Hakeem Sule said.

Egbe scored the only touchdown of the game, on the very first drive of the contest. He punched it in from two yards out after quarterback Preston Howard connected on a 45-yard pass to Jonny Cool to set the Eagles deep in Spalding territory.

“Before the game, we were talking about how we need to come out, we need to score first,” Egbe said. “We need to take the momentum out of them, that’s what we did.”

The Eagles’ offense was generally conservative because their defense, sparked by its Division I front of Dani Dennis-Sutton, Kwan Williams, Tamarcus Walker and Mason Robinson, rendered Spalding helpless. 

Dennis-Sutton, arguably the area’s top defensive player bound to Penn State University, was ecstatic as he, Kwan Williams (Boston College), Tamarcus Walker and Mason Robinson shutout Spalding for the first time since week 4 of the 2011 season.

“With defense, it’s just mentality,” Dennis-Sutton said. “We knew we weren’t going to lose from the beginning.”

Egbe wasn’t just the Eagle’s offensive star of the night. He was one of the many defenders that stepped up. He grabbed an interception to set up the drive that clinched the game for the Eagles.

“I tip my hat to him,” Sule said. “He’s a kid that’s created his opportunity.”

Spalding (10-1) wasn’t without chances throughout the game. After Egbe’s touchdown, Spalding’s Tyler Brown took the ensuing kickoff 40 yards, but the Cavaliers turned the ball over on downs.

Every time quarterback Nick Gutierrez was able to move the Cavaliers down the field, the Eagle defensive line responded.

Spalding, which averaged 36.5 points during the regular season, put a running clock on every MIAA A team this season, except McDonogh which held the Cavaliers to 14 points last month in Owings Mills. 

In position to reach its first MIAA A final, Spalding played well enough to win Friday night. 

McDonogh played better.

“It’s so hard to go undefeated,” Spalding coach Kyle Schmitt said. “It’s not going to end in a championship, but it was a special year regardless.”

MIAA A Conference semifinal

No. 5 McDonogh School 7, No. 2 Archbishop Spalding 0

Archbishop Spalding 0 0 0 0 — 0

McDonogh 7 0 0 0 — 7

First quarter

McDonogh – Stefan Egbe 2 run (Sam Asplen kick)