Second half surge sweeps McDonogh past No. 5 Franklin; Procaccini rushes for 102 yards (VIDEO HERE!)
by Derek Toney
Harrison Beattie was impressive hitting three field goals for McDonogh School football Friday evening. But it was something else he did with his legs that was the highlight for the Eagles.
No. 6 McDonogh posted a 38-3 decision over fifth-ranked Franklin in a non-league special at John W. McDonogh Stadium in Owings Mills. Senior running back Giovanni Procaccini ran for 102 yards and two touchdowns and Preston Howard and Kris Jenner each threw for a score.
The Eagles (3-0 overall) dominated the final 24 minutes, turning the first match of 2019 of VSN Top 10 squads into a mismatch. The last 1:43 of regulation was a running clock.
Beattie easily drilled through 3-pointers from 47, 42 and 38 yards and three extra points out of four attempts. The lone “fail” turned into a 2-point conversion as Beattie scooped up a mishandled snap and ran into the corner of the end zone.
The entire McDonogh team ran down its sideline to congratulate Beattie.
“I thought it wasn’t going to make it,” said Beattie. “I got the corner and then I saw everyone…we’ve playing really well. The chemistry is amazing.”
After a disappointing 3-6 last fall, McDonogh has equaled its 2018 win output. The MIAA A Conference program has been impressive, outscoring its opponents, 110-23.
“It’s been about our leadership, leadership from our coaches, leadership from our players,” said Eagles coach Hakeem Sule. “For us, it was about coming back out here this season and putting it together with senior leadership and build something.”
Sule’s in his second season as Dom Damico’s successor. Damico, who guided McDonogh to eight MIAA championships in 24 seasons, returned to the Owings Mills private school Friday as Franklin’s defensive coordinator.
Sule, who played and coached under Damico, knew Friday would be “emotional.”
“It was great, but our focus was really how can we beat Franklin because they’re a great team with a lot of history and tradition,” said Sule.
The Eagles got good field position on their opening possession and went 43 yards in five plays, capped with Procaccini’s 1-yard score. Franklin answered with a 20-yard field goal from senior Simon Spath.
The reigning Class 3A state champ Indians (1-1) advanced the ball into the red zone on their next drive, but Spath, the hero in last year’s title game victory over Linganore, missed on a 36-yard field goal chance. Beattie cleared the uprights from 47 yards, with 1:08 left in the second quarter, pushing McDonogh’s lead to 10-3 at halftime.
Despite the advantage, Eagles senior Curtis Jacobs said his team needed to raise its level.
“We told the guys we had to come out fire in the second half,” said Jacobs.
On the opening drive of the second half, Jacobs (4 catches, 88 yards), a Penn State University commit, nabbed a pass from Howard for 31 yards on 3rd-and-6. Three plays later, Howard (7-of-11, 132 yards) lofted a 30-yard pass to junior Dante Trader for a touchdown.
The Eagles’ defense, featuring a sack from Kwan Williams, forced a three-and-out. Senior Jackson Bonitz broke free and blocked Franklin’s punt attempt, setting the hosts at the Indians’ 2.
Procaccini got his second score, this time from two yards. The extra-point snap went through the hands of the holder, and Beattie put his legs to work.
“If anyone does anything good, you’ll see the whole team celebrate,” said Beattie. “We’re one.”
After Jamir Roberts intercepted Franklin quarterback Vernon Brown (10-of-23, 114 yards), Beattie connected from 38 for a 28-3 Eagle cushion late in third quarter. Beattie’s 42-yarder pushed the lead to 31-3 midway in the fourth.
In addition to Beattie’s kicking, Sule said McDonogh’s run game which struggled last season, was solid Friday.
“We really wanted to address that, get our line to perform up to par,” said Sule. “We got senior leadership there and some new young guys helping out.”
Separated by 10 minutes on the I-795 Expressway in northwest Baltimore County, McDonogh and Franklin last played in 2016. The Indians opened their 2019 campaign last weekend with victory over New York’s St. Anthony’s as coach Anthony Burgos played in his birth home of Long Island.
After promising signs in the first half, the Indians collapsed in the second half Friday. The Reisterstown school managed 15 yards and one first down (on hook-and-ladder play) in the second half.
Burgos said not producing on chances in the opening half put Franklin in a pernicious spot.
“You have to take advantage of opportunities, I’m not saying things go differently but the kids are more excited and believe in themselves,” said Burgos, whose team rushed for 19 yards. “They beat us in all three phases of the game. I thought we played pretty solid the first 24 minutes, but we didn’t play well at all the last 24.”
The first 144 minutes of play has been pretty good so far for McDonogh, which travels to Bullis School in Montgomery County next week. The Eagles haven’t started 4-0 since its historic 11-0 MIAA A championship season of 2013.
“The mantra this year is ‘hey whatever our record is, we’re nothing more nothing less,'” said Sule. “Let’s not look ahead, let’s take it one week at a time, and next week we have Bullis.”
No. 6 McDonogh School 38, No. 5 Franklin 3
Franklin 3 0 0 0 – 3
McDonogh 7 7 14 10 – 38
McDonogh – Giovanni Procaccini 1 run (Harrison Beattie kick)
Franklin – Simon Spath 20 field goal
McDonogh – Beattie 47 field goal
McDonogh – Dante Trader 30 pass from Preston Howard (Beattie kick)
McDonogh – Procaccini 2 run (Beattie run)
McDonogh – Beattie 38 field goal
McDonogh – Beattie 42 field goal
McDonogh – Dane Swanson 16 pass from Kris Jenner (Beattie kick)