McDonogh 35’s marching band showed up late to the football team’s nondistrict game Friday night against Bonnabel, waiting into the second half to claim its seats at Joseph S. Jenni Stadium.
Figuratively speaking, so did the Roneagles football team, especially on offense.
Lucky for McDonogh 35, its inexperienced offensive line, which struggled early to give quarterback Sidney Wilson time to operate and its running backs room to maneuver, recovered in time to spark a third-quarter scoring spurt en route to a 26-18 win.
After four weeks of play, McDonogh 35 (1-3) finally earned its first win of the 2014 season.
“We got it, and still have a whole lot of work to do,” said Roneagles coach Wayne Reese.
The nondistrict win proved to be a learning lesson for the Roneagles, whose offensive line has just one senior: Antwine Smith.
“It’s like me being a teacher, a brother and a communicator,” Smith said. “As we grow together, we learn what each other is going to do.”
Up next for the Roneagles is Livonia, two weeks before opening District 9-4A action against Warren Easton (Oct. 17).
Meanwhile, Bonnabel dropped to 1-3 after last week’s emotional, overtime win against East Jefferson, the defending Class 4A state champions. Bonnabel went 1-9 last season.
“We just weren’t ready for the high-tempo (atmosphere), the crowd being as loud as it was,” said quarterback Semaj Franklin, whose 4-yard run early in the first quarter gave Bonnabel a 6-0 lead.
After a 6-6 halftime, McDonogh 35’s offensive line adjusted, leading to three consecutive scoring drives.
Running back Darius May scored from 5 yards with 6:32 left in the third, Wilson followed with a 24-yard TD pass to Darius Williams and after Bonnabel countered with Alfred Richardson’s 31-yard TD reception with two seconds left in the quarter, Josh Jones scored on a 10-yard TD run.
Franklin and the Bonnabel offense failed to counter.
“You have to be able to play with a lead,” Bonnabel coach Reggie Rogers said. “We started self-destructing a little bit. We just have to play with expectations on us.”
Wilson threw for 176 yards, and ran for 51 yards. May led the Roneagles in rushing with 67 yards.
That was just enough to slow down Franklin, who passed for 97 yards, ran for two scores and gave the McDonogh 35 defense fits.
Franklin scored on a 3-yard run with 4:30 left, but the Bruins failed to recover an onside kick.
“We’re a good football team,” Reese said. “But we’ve got a whole lot of mistakes we need to clear up to show that we’re better than how we played. We’re young.”
Next week, Bonnabel plays Holy Cross.