Cornell Washington waited until his senior year to play high school football. But the McDonogh 35 receiver already has something to tell his grandkids about one day.
Washington caught a tipped pass from Sidney Wilson that turned third-and-27 into a 79-yard touchdown that was the difference in the Roneagles’ 20-14 victory against Slidell on Friday at McGinty Stadium.
“All I remember is running up the field in the seam, Toreano Miner tipped it and there it was,” Wilson said. “All I had to do was keep going.”
Washington’s catch came two minutes into the second half and gave McDonogh 35 (2-0) a 20-6 lead.
But Slidell (0-2) didn’t fold. The Tigers took 17 plays and almost 10 minutes to go 69 yards for a touchdown that made it a single-possession game going into the fourth quarter. But they could never get the ball past their 29 in the final period.
“We’re playing some of the best teams in the state, and we’re playing them tough,” said Slidell coach Larry Favre, whose team lost to Destrehan 33-23 last week. “There’s no quit in these young men. But when you play teams the caliber of McDonogh 35, every mistake is magnified. I don’t know what else we could have done about that tip, though.”
McDonogh 35 was coming off an emotional victory against archrival St. Augustine, its first against the Purple Knights since 2011, and it was playing an unfamiliar foe on the road. That might have been the perfect scenario for a letdown, and to some extent it was.
After scoring on their first possession — a 76-yard drive capped by Darius May’s 16-yard TD run — the Roneagles added only two more scores, one being the Wilson-to-Washington connection.
The Roneagles did get 144 yards on 19 carries from the Tulane-bound May. Plus the 35 defense kept the Tigers at bay, coming up with a pair of interceptions and limiting the home team to 193 yards.
“We came back from the St. Aug game and worked hard every day,” said Stephon May, the Roneagles’ uncommitted four-star defensive tackle. “They’re a 5A school and we’re 4A, so we don’t underestimate anybody. We’ve got a lot teams left to play, so we’ve got to be the same old, same old every day.”
And Slidell gave the Roneagles a game as well.
Trailing early, the Tigers rallied with a nine-play, 70-yard drive helped along by a pair of penalties against the Roneagles, including one when they lined up offside before a third-and-3 play from the visitors’ 39.
Four plays later, Kyron Smith scored from the 10, but the missed extra point kept the Tigers behind 7-6.
The Tigers got another break on the next series when May fumbled into the end zone after he had earlier broken off a 46-yard run to the 11.
A 19-yard pass from Wilson to Keys late in the half made it 14-6, and the bomb to Washington came on the first series of the third quarter.
“We’ve still got some work to do,” McDonogh 35 coach Wayne Reese said. “But this team recognizes it can play with anybody. That’s the No. 1 thing.”