The Carver Rams have staked a path toward earning the school’s first district championship in football in more than a decade by defeating reigning District 10-4A champion McDonogh 35, 28-0, Thursday night at Pan American Stadium.
Junior quarterback Quincy Curry passed for two touchdowns covering 37 and 53 yards to wide receivers Calvin Jones III and Lynaris Elpheage Jr., running back Corey Johnson ran 20 yards for a fourth-quarter score and defensive back Dorion Jefferson followed that by returning an interception 63 yards for Carver’s final points to pace the Rams to their first league victory in District 10-4A’s abbreviated three-game schedule.
Carver (5-3 overall, 1-0 in 10-4A) recorded its third straight victory and can secure its first district championship since 2004 with victories in its final two regular-season games against John F. Kennedy (2-6, 1-0) and Riverdale (4-3, 0-2).
“This is a good win,’’ Carver coach Byron Addison said after besting his former coach and mentor at Carver and current McDonogh 35 coach Wayne Reese for the first time in four meetings. “I’m excited for these young men. They worked so hard all week on a short week of practice. So we’re going to enjoy this win tonight and for 24 hours and then get ready for our next opponent.’’
That would be Kennedy, which also opened District 10-4A play victorious Thursday night by upsetting Riverdale, 28-26, at Joe Yenni Stadium. The Rams and Cougars play next Friday at 7 p.m. at Joe Brown Stadium.
McDonogh 35 (4-4 overall, 1-1) opened District 10-4A play last week with a promising 26-20 come-from-behind victory against Riverdale. But now the Roneagles must beat Kennedy on Nov. 1 in each team’s regular-season finale and pull for a Riverdale victory against Carver that same weekend to forge at least a share for a second consecutive 10-4A crown.
“Getting a win against Coach Reese is almost bittersweet,’’ said Addison, a 1996 Carver graduate, who played cornerback and safety for Reese when he coached the Rams. “That’s where I got my shot under Coach Reese. I respect Coach Reese so much not only as a coach, but as a man. He’s like a father figure to me.’’
Kicker Edinzon Vasquez kicked two PATs and Carver’s special teams accounted for the game’s other points via a safety when McDonogh 35 punter Torey Chambers slipped in the end zone while attempting to run out of punt formation from the Roneagles 2-yard line.
The safety produced a 15-0 lead with 6 minutes, 57 seconds remaining that Johnson followed two possessions later with his 20-yard scoring run that put a dagger into McDonogh 35’s comeback hopes one week after the Roneagles had rallied from a 14-0 deficit to defeat Riverdale, 26-20.
Curry directed a turnover-free effort by the Rams while accounting for 166 of Carver’s 242 yards with his passing and running. Curry completed 9 of 14 passes good for 106 yards, with the first and third period touchdowns to Jones and Elpheage, and ran 15 times for an additional 60 yards of Carver's 136-yard total.
Carver’s defense, meanwhile, kept McDonogh 35 in check throughout and forced four turnovers while limiting the Roneagles to 174 yards. The Rams defensive pressure resulted in an 8-for-27 passing effort by McDonogh 35 quarterbacks that produced only 70 yards.
Jefferson, with two, and fellow defensive back Justin London recorded Carver’s three interceptions.
“I can’t give (credit) to one individual,’’ Addison said. “I’m extremely proud and excited with the way our defense has been playing not just tonight, but for the last three weeks. We’re still young on offense and we still feed off of our defense. So I take my hat off to the whole entire defense.’’
The Rams led 6-0 at halftime, but quickly expanded that advantage on their first possession of the third quarter when Curry found a wide open Epheage streaking down the middle of the field for a 53-yard strike that increased the lead to 13-0.
Carver scored the lone touchdown of a penalty-marred first half via the 37-yard scoring pass from Curry to Jones midway through the first quarter.
Curry’s long pass to a wide open Jones converted a fourth-and-10 and culminated an 8-play, 51-yard possession that included two fourth down conversions. Running back Randolph Armstead converted the first in bolting 26 yards around from right end on fourth-and-22 from Carver’s 37-yard line.
The Rams penetrated McDonogh 35 territory on one other of their five first-half possessions, but after reaching the Roneagles 32-yard the drive stalled following a loss of 2 yards, a holding penalty, a completion of 7 yards, an incompletion and a sack of 14 yards gave McDonogh 35 possession at its 47-yard line.
McDonogh 35’s two first-half scoring threats ended via an interception by London and a lost fumble that squashed drives at Carver’s 40 and 11 yard lines respectively.
Penalties were a low light for the Rams and Roneagles, who combined to commit 20 infractions, with 11 of those being called against Carver.
“I just like where we’re at as a whole,’’ Addison said of the inside track Carver has on a district title. “I like the strides we’re making as a school. With the support we’re getting from the administration and from the kids, I just think we’re getting better and better as a school.’’
CARVER 28, McDONOGH 35 0
Carver 6 0 7 15 -- 28
McDonogh 35 0 0 0 0 -- 0
First downs 9 12
Rushing 136 104
Passing 106 70
Total offense 242 174
Passes 9-14-0 8-27-3
Penalties 15-107 11-72
Punts 4-38.6 2-23.5
Fumbles/lost 1-0 3-1
C: Calvin Jones III 37 pass from Quincy Curry (Kick failed).
C: Lynaris Elpheage Jr. 53 pass from Quincy Curry (Edinzon Vasquez kick).
C: McDonogh 35 punter Torey Chambers tackled in the end zone for a Carver safety.
C: Corey Johnson 20 run (Edinzon Vasquez kick).
C: Dorion Jefferson 63 interception return (Kick failed).