The McDonogh 35 offense never could quite get into full gear Thursday night at Pan-Am Stadium.
The defense and special teams took care of things, leading McDonogh 35 to a 21-0 homecoming victory over Belle Chasse.
“It feels good to have a shutout homecoming game,” said Roneagles senior defensive tackle Mastephon Taylor. “We work hard every day at practice and that hard work carries over to the game.”
The Roneagles, ranked No. 4 in The New Orleans Advocate Large School Super 10 and No. 2 in the LSWA Class 4A polls, improved to 6-0 overall and 3-0 in District 9-4A.
It was their first shutout since beating Lutcher 36-0 in the second game of 2013, a victory the Roneagles later had to forfeit.
It was a bend-but-don’t break first half defense that helped get this shutout.
Belle Chasse (4-2, 1-2) put together long drives in the first quarter twice, but came away empty. The Cardinals got to the Roneagles’ 6-yard line on their second possession.
“We had that goal-line defense and were able to get off the field and that’s why we have a great defense,” said defensive end Sci Martin, who finished with 1.5 sacks.
Taylor had two fumble recoveries.
And it was much needed in a game where the Roneagles offense, much like Belle Chasse, couldn’t get going.
“The first half, we drove the ball and then we made mistakes,” Cardinals coach Stephen Meyers said. “You can’t do that against a defense like 35. All night we just shot ourselves in the foot. The second half we did the same thing and they took advantage of it like a good team does.”
The game was scoreless at the half.
But moments after Jamal Crawford, the Roneagles 300-pound center, and Tasia Smith were crowned homecoming king and queen, McDonogh 35 got going.
Sophomore Jared Myles returned the opening kickoff of the second half 87 yards for a touchdown to give the Roneagles a much-needed spark.
“I just focused and broke it through the hole,” Myles said of his first career touchdown. “I just work hard and run hard. Once I broke through, I knew they weren’t going to catch me.”
Few can catch the speedster, a member of the school’s state championship 4x200 relay team in the spring.
“He is going to be a good one,” McDonogh 35 coach Wayne Reese. “He is still in the learning stage, learning football. We just hope he keeps a level head and keeps doing what he is supposed to do.”
Myles’ touchdown was all the points MCDonogh 35 would need, but it ignited the offense.
Sidney Wilson connected with Brad Stewart for a 23-yard touchdown with 3:22 left in the third to stretch it to 14-0. Then Tulane commit Darius May tacked on a 15-yard run in the fourth to seal it.
“The defense did their job tonight,” Reese said. “The offense didn’t do anything. They were just going through the motions. I think they are starting to read the stuff in the media and starting to think they are good.”
Trey Green, Caylin Parker and Fredrick Smith led the Cardinals on offense. But Green, who entered the game with 722 yards and 12 touchdowns, was kept out of the end zone this time though.
“They were pounding us at first, but we got on the same page and stopped them when we needed to and made it happen,” Taylor said. “The defense stayed with it and we got that zero.”