When the going got tough, junior Sherron Gudger took over.
Gudger rushed for 293 yards on 18 carries and four touchdowns to lead McDonough to a 33-20 victory over C.M. Wright in the Maryland Class 3A football championship last night at Friendly High School.
The victory caps an eight-game winning streak for the No. 12 Rams.
"I owe it all to my line," Gudger said. "They were perfect."
This is the third state football crown for McDonough and Coach Larry Johnson. The school also won titles in 1983 and 1985.
"I think this is probably the sweetest," said Johnson, coach since McDonough took up the sport at the varsity level in '78. "It was much tougher than the last time."
C.M. Wright (12-1) of Harford County earned a trip to its first title game by posting six shutouts and yielding only 44 points this season.
The Mustangs got on the scoreboard first by driving 34 yards to the 17 on their first possession. On fourth and four, Mike Wiechert kicked a 34-yard field goal.
McDonough (12-1) struck like lightning on the next series.
The drive started when quarterback Ryan Gick completed a first down pass to Travis Call for 10 yards. On the next play, Gudger, lining up as the only running back, ran 61 yards on a misdirection play for a touchdown.
Mike Loredo, who kicked the winning field goal against Northern last week, missed the extra point attempt.
After the two teams exchanged punts, McDonough got the ball on its 31 at 10:04 of the second quarter. On second down from the 38 Gudger busted loose again, but was dragged down and stripped of the ball at the 1 by Keith Wilson. The fumble bounced out of the end zone and C.M. Wright took over from the 20.
The Mustangs moved the ball inside McDonough territory before Travis Call recovered a C.M. Wright fumble on the 40.
McDonough went 60 yards in 10 plays before Gudger scored from four yards at 4:33. The Rams' two-point conversion attempt -- a running play from field goal formation -- was thwarted.
The Mustangs pulled closer before halftime when Wiechert converted his second field goal, this time from 35 yards, with 13 seconds left.
McDonough, runner-up to Northern in the SMAC, broke the game open with its running attack in the second half.
Midway through the third quarter, McDonough got the ball on Wright's 40 after a punt. Gudger ran for nine on first down. He then broke for 21 on a misdirection. A personal foul after the whistle moved the ball to the 5.
Two plays later, Gudger rambled in from the 1 for his third touchdown. Loredo's extra point made it 19-6 with 4:47 left in the quarter.
McDonough appeared to have the game wrapped on its next possession after it had driven to the Wright 34. But Gick, while rolling out on the option, sent an errant pitch which the Mustangs' Ken Batten picked up and ran for 66 yards and the touchdown. Wiechert's extra point closed the difference to 19-13 with 10:13 to play.
On the ensuing series, Gudger went up the middle for 77 yards and his fourth touchdown on third and one. Loredo's extra point made the score 26-13 with 8:53 remaining.
Gudger was not the only Rams rusher to have a big evening.
Roosevelt Lee (10 carries, 116 yards) put the game out of reach on the first play of the Rams' next series racing for a 36-yard touchdown with 6:42 to play.
McDonough totaled 416 yards.