Gilman's Wyatt Dickerson scored two touchdowns and played a key defensive role to make his final Gilman-McDonogh game a memorable one.
The senior running back's two short touchdown runs came late in the first half and early in the second as the No. 1 Greyhounds seized more than enough momentum to carry them to a 48-12 victory over a resilient Eagles squad in their 97th meeting Saturday at Gilman.
The Greyhounds (7-2) won for the fourth straight time and lead the series 59-33-5. Neither side had won four in a row since the Greyhounds won all eight from 1971-78.
"I'm pretty nostalgic," Dickerson said. "My career has come to an end on this field and I have been blessed by God to be on varsity for four years and have never lost to McDonogh. This is the ultimate rivalry. I can't believe I'm a part of something this big and this special and to never lose, that is clearly going to go on my senior page. It's something awesome."
While quarterback Shane Cockerille led the way with nine carries for 107 yards and 4-for-6 passing for 128 yards and two touchdowns, six Greyhounds carried the ball into the end zone. Troy Vincent Jr. scored a rushing touchdown, Jibri McClean and Kai Locksley caught touchdown passes, Melvin Keihn scored on a fumble recovery and Robert Branch converted an interception.
The Greyhounds polished off a perfect five-game run through the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference, winning by an average of 31.4 points with only Calvert Hall (24-14) coming closer than 30. The defending champion Greyhounds will have a week off before the A Conference semifinals Nov. 10 at Stevenson University.
The Eagles, who have had close losses to No. 2 Calvert Hall, 19-12, and No. 10 Archbishop Spalding, 14-13, this season and beat Mount St. Joseph last week, 24-0, will travel to Loyola to play in an A Conference quarterfinal next week.
Gilman took an early lead on Vincent's 24-yard touchdown run, but the Eagles (2-7, 1-4) pulled within one after Kareem Montgomery intercepted Cockerille. Eagles quarterback Travis Wood hit Taysean Scott with a 9-yard touchdown pass 10 plays later. The conversion pass failed, leaving Gilman with a 7-6 lead 7:31 before the half.
Dickerson scored his first touchdown six minutes later, but McDonogh's Wyatt Cook blocked Trevor Wey's extra-point attempt to keep the Eagles within 13-6.
With the Eagles on the Greyhounds' 48-yard line and about 40 seconds left in the half, McDonogh coach Dom Damico intended to call a timeout. He said he waited for the play clock to wind down to 10 seconds before calling it, but the official never gave the 10-second signal and the Eagles were flagged for delay of game, backing them up five yards. The next play started with a bad snap and Keihn recovered the ball and ran it 43 yards for the touchdown with 3.8 seconds to go.
If Damico had gotten the timeout, "hopefully, we wouldn't have run that play where they scored and just deflated us," he said. "If that play hadn't happened, we go in at halftime 13-6. I think we played them pretty evenly in the first half. We just couldn't recover from that."
For Keihn, a junior defensive end, it was his first recovery for a touchdown this season.
"That was a big momentum play," Keihn said. "Coach [Stan] White told me, 'You're going to get one today,' and when I saw that ball, I picked it up. I said, 'I've got to give Coach White what [he] wished for.' I just had to do that for the seniors."
The Greyhounds kept the momentum rolling after the break as Dickerson scored his second touchdown on a 4-yard run a minute into the second half. Neither team made it to the red zone on its next possession, but the Eagles drove to the Gilman 2 late in the third quarter only to be stopped by a staunch Greyhounds defense.
Dickerson, who doubles as a linebacker, had a hand in every tackle as the Greyhounds stopped all four McDonogh runs to force a turnover on downs.
"They're a big, strong, physical team," Damico said of the Greyhounds. "They're tough at the point of attack, block really well and they really controlled both lines of scrimmage. In high school football, it's really hard to beat teams that can control both lines of scrimmage. They're the best team in this area and probably one of the better teams in the country at controlling the line of scrimmage."
After the Eagles turned the ball over on downs, the Greyhounds needed just three plays to go the distance as Bijan Rhett broke a 35-yard run to start the drive and Cockerille hit McLean who raced 63 yards for a 34-6 Gilman lead with 11:50 to go.
Branch followed that with an 18-yard interception return to boost the Gilman lead to 41-6 before the Eagles got on the board again on a 4-yard Syl Brown scoring run. Brown, who carried 22 times for 164 yards, had a 68-yard run on the first play of the drive.
Brown's touchdown cut the lead to 41-12, but that lasted less than two minutes. Cockerille hit Locksley with a 49-yard pass for a 48-12 lead with 4:45 to go.