The McKinley football team knows how to finish a season. Maybe that's why it has shrugged off what was an un-Macklike start.
Terrell Hogue ran for 127 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries and Demetrius Patterson ran 12 times for 108 yards as the two-time defending Harvard Cup champion Macks handed Seneca its first loss, 14-6, Friday evening at Johnnie B. Wiley Pavilion.
A capacity crowd at the former site of War Memorial Stadium saw McKinley handle Seneca (5-1), which shared the No. 10 spot in The News small school poll and was an honorable mention in the Class B state poll. It was the Macks' fourth straight win after starting 0-2.
"You've got to lose some games just to know you can come back and win," said Patterson, a 5-foot-9, 200-pound junior. "You've got to take some losses sometime. We just kept our heads up and stayed focused."
The Macks (4-2) went on top late in the first half thanks to a drive comprising two first-down runs (for 19 and 34 yards) by Patterson and six Hogue rushes. Hogue sped through a hole on the left side for a 1-yard score 1 minute, 15 seconds before halftime, and a Hogue conversion run gave the Macks an 8-0 lead.
After McKinley chose to punt on fourth-and-13 at the Seneca 31 late in the third quarter, the Macks got the ball right back at the 20 when they forced a fumble by the Indians' Demario Hunley. Three Hogue runs helped the Macks to the 5, where sophomore quarterback Michael Gates hit senior Jacob Halbert on a third-down pass for a 14-0 lead with 11:43 left on the clock.
Senior Andreas Battle (13 tackles) and junior Vince Workman (11 tackles) led a Mack defense that kept Seneca from getting to the McKinley 30-yard line until there was 6:35 left. That's when a McKinley punt from deep in its territory set up Seneca at the Mack 30.
On the next play, Seneca senior standout Ahmir Cole sped through the line, faked out two tacklers and brushed off another on the way to a touchdown. But the conversion pass failed, and thanks to more running by Hogue and Patterson, Seneca didn't get the ball back.
"We weren't panicking because we started off bad (this season)," said Hogue, a 5-5, 160-pound senior. "We just had to come together as a team. Our leaders had to step up, and they did it, and now we're back."
The Indians' loss left Burgard first in the Harvard Cup standings at 5-0. The Bulldogs can keep sole possession of the top spot if they beat Kensington (1-4) at 2 p.m. today at All High Stadium.
Meanwhile, a trio of 3-2 teams will try to keep pace with McKinley. Hutch-Tech (3-2) meets Bennett (1-4) at 10 a.m. in the first game of the All High doubleheader. At Riverside, Lafayette (3-2) meets Grover Cleveland (1-4) at 10 a.m., while South Park (3-2) faces Riverside (0-5) at 2 p.m.