Malvern – One encouraging note for Malvern Prep during its 27-9 loss to McDonogh Friday evening was the Friars’ second-half rally that threw a brief scare into the visiting Eagles.
The Friars’ spirited second-half push was no small feat against a McDonogh (3-1) team ranked 27th nationally, and No. 3 in Maryland, by MaxPreps.
Trailing 27-0 late in the third quarter, Malvern (ranked No. 9 in the latest PaPrepLive.com Top 20 football poll) moved quickly down the field on a six-play, 80-yard touchdown drive, then a couple of minutes later, Friar junior linebacker and co-captain Keith Maguire tackled McDonogh running back Giovanni Procaccini in the end zone for a safety to make the score 27-9.
Seven plays later, McDonogh coughed up a fumble, and Malvern’s Nathan Daller gave the Friars the ball once again.
“Once we started making plays on defense, we showed everyone that we could play with [McDonogh],” said Maguire. “They started to get rattled.”
Malvern (1-3) then moved the ball down to the McDonogh 24 yard line, helped by the combination of junior quarterback Drew Gunther to senior wide receiver Quin McCahon (who had six second-half receptions), as well as an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the visitors, followed by a warning to the visitors’ sideline.
While Malvern’s late rally energized the home crowd, there were no more points left in the Friars’ arsenal Friday evening. But the hosts had made their point on defense.
“Our defense fueled our second-half rally,” said Malvern Prep head coach Dave Guereria. “In the second half, we played much better defensively. Keith Maguire had a good game, and so did [linebackers] Nick Guereria and Cole McCabe.”
Maguire said, “We [the linebackers] try to lead the defense by example. At halftime, we told [our teammates] that we can play with [McDonogh], and once we started to make plays on defense, we got the momentum.”
Malvern had a hard time establishing defensive momentum at the beginning of the game. The first two times McDonogh had the ball, they scored touchdowns, the first on a 12-play, 81-yard drive, the second on a 14-play, 78-yard TD drive.
In the final two minutes before halftime, Malvern Prep made a big offensive push. Friar junior quarterback Drew Gunther hit three passes for 68 yards, but the hosts failed to score and trailed 21-0 at halftime.
The Friars had only 15 rushing yards at halftime on 11 carries, and Gunther had been sacked three times for sizable losses.
Midway through the third quarter, Malvern Prep’s Quinn McCahon broke through the line to block the extra point attempt following McDonogh’s fourth touchdown to keep the score at 27-0 It proved to be a precursor of things to come, as McCahon would continue to prevail for the hosts.
Starting at his own 20 yard line, Gunther hit McCahon for completions on three consecutive plays for a total of 48 yards, then hit Isaac White for an 18-yard completion. Malvern junior Quincy Watson ran around left end for a 12-yard touchdown to make the score 27-7 with 4:07 left in the third quarter.
Malvern’s defense kept the pressure on for the next three plays, and following a weak McDonogh punt to the Eagles’ 25 yard line, the hosts had the ball in excellent field position.
Although the Friars did not score, a beautiful Malvern punt pinned McDonogh back to its own 1 yard line, and on the next play, Maguire got the safety to make it 27-9.
“We ran a pinch [defense], and I read an outside run from the right side,” said Maguire. “I was able to tackle [Procaccini) from the right side for a safety.”
While Gunther passed for more than 200 yards, he was tackled for losses seven times, and once had to fall on a high center snap for a sizable loss.
“We shot ourselves in the foot offensively at times tonight,” said Guereria.
The Friars have tackled a tough schedule in the early part of the season, taking on LaSalle (ranked No. 2 in the latest Pa Prep Live Top 20 poll), undefeated Pope John Paul XXIII (ranked seventh in New Jersey by MaxPreps) as well as McDonogh.
“Our tough [early] schedule will prepare us for our tough Inter-Ac schedule,” said Maguire.
McDonogh 27, Malvern Prep 9
McDonogh 7 14 6 0 — 27
Malvern Prep 0 0 9 0 — 9
McD: Farrare 27 pass from Walsh (Beattie kick)
McD: Ellis 2 run (Beattie kick)
McD: Rahim 31 pass from Ellis (Beattie kick)
McD: Procaccini 2 run (kick blocked)
MAL: Watson 12 run (Reilly kick)
MAL: Safety, Watson tackled ballcarrier in end zone
First downs 13 12
Rushes-Yards 38-148 24-14
Passing yards 122 235
Total yards 270 249
Passing 9-15-0 14-31-1
Punts-Average 4-28.8 5-33.2
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-0
Penalties-Yards 8-97 8-60
Rushing: McDonogh — Johnson 11-46, Ellis 11-47, 1 TD, Smith 8-15, Procaccini 7-36, 1 TD, Farrare 1-4. Malvern Prep — Watson 5-25, 1 TD, Allison 11-51, Gunther 8-minus 62.
Passing: McDonogh — Ellis 8-14-0, 95 1 TD; Walsh 1-1-0, 27, 1 TD. Malvern Prep — Gunther 14-30-1, 235; White 0-1-0, 0.
Receiving: McDonogh — Farrare 4-50, 1 TD; Jacobs 2-22; Rahim 1-31, 1 TD; Simmons 1-14; Dion 1-5. Malvern Prep — McCahon 8-124, White 2-28, Watson 2-51, Maguire 1-minus 2, Leach 1-34.