AMITE — It took a while for the McDonogh 35 offense to figure Amite out Friday night. Fortunately for the Roneagles, their smothering defense bought them all the time they needed.
McDonogh collected five sacks to hold Amite to minus-81 yards rushing and three first downs for the entire game, and also came up with four turnovers to win the field position battle overwhelmingly in rolling to a 36-0 victory.
McDonogh 35 (8-1) was locked in a scoreless deadlock at halftime with the Warriors (4-5) before quarterback Sidney Wilson capitalized on a flurry of Amite turnovers to throw three touchdown passes and run for two more scores after intermission.
“Defense is our pride,” McDonogh coach Wayne Reese said. “I always tell the defense, ‘You guys got to hold the fort until we can figure our what the hell we’re going to do (offensively).’ They did that. After the half the offense started figuring out what we could do. Our offense is so doggone young.
“We’ve got to speed it up a little bit more. We’re getting ready to play Karr next week, and we can’t do what we did tonight.”
Amite, playing without six starters, including its regular starting quarterback and star running back, couldn’t get it going against McDonogh’s star-studded defense, led by defensive linemen Eric Smith (two sacks, one fumble recovery) and Sci Martin (two sacks).
“We’re just shorthanded,” Amite coach Zephaniah Powell said. “You’re playing with a freshman quarterback; the kid’s only 14 years old. He’s going to be a dynamic player for us eventually, but that’s what we’ve got right now. It was just a tough game for us all the way around tonight.”
After a scoreless first half, McDonogh got untracked off the second half kickoff, sparked by a 43-yard kickoff return by Lawrence Keys. That set up an eight-play, 46-yard drive capped when Wilson drilled Toreano Miner with a 9-yard touchdown pass to put the Roneagles on the board less than four minutes into the third period.
McDonogh 35 then capitalized on three Warrior turnovers to break the game open. Smith recovered a bad shotgun snap by the Warriors at the Amite 48. Three plays later, Amite defensive back Deandrae Gordon broke up a pass intended for McDonogh’s Jared Myles but deflected the ball into Myles’ hands for a 32-yard touchdown and a 14-0 Roneagle lead.
McDonogh’s Mastephon Taylor recovered another Warriors fumble at the Amite 48. Wilson converted a 4th-and-4 with a 6-yard run, then kept for the 1-yard TD on the first play of the fourth quarter, with Miner’s third straight PAT making it 21-0.
McDonogh’s Joe Foucha then intercepted a Warrior pass and returned it 50 yards to the Amite 4. Wilson’s 2-yard keeper and a two-point conversion run by Miner made it 29-0.
The Roneagles tacked another score on a brilliant diving 26-yard touchdown catch by Darius May with 7:07 to play. May also led all rushers with 22 carries for 96 yards.
The first half went scoreless thanks to an Amite defense that thwarted the Roneagles despite five consecutive McDonogh possessions that started in Amite territory. That included two Warrior stops from point-blank range — the first after McDonogh 35’s Brad Stewart recovered a high shotgun snap fumble at the Amite 10.
But a holding penalty pushed McDonogh back on second down, Mark Wilson stopped Darius May for a 3-yard loss, and the Amite secondary blanketed two McDonogh pass attempts into the end zone to take over on downs with 2:56 left in the half.
But McDonogh, which held Amite to minus-38 yards of offense in the first half thanks to four sacks, got another chance when Jaden Scott blocked an Amite punt attempt and the Roneagles gained possession at the Warrior 12 with 1:11 left in the half.
But Amite rose up again, with Devin Atkins making a key pass break-up in the end zone among three straight incompletions. Toreano Miner attempted a 28-yard field goal, but drove it low into the line where it was blocked with 42 seconds left in the half, leaving it scoreless at the break.