You could not carve a turkey any more thoroughly than Calvert Hall sliced up arch-rival Loyola Blakefield during the first-half of the 91st annual Turkey Bowl, Thursday morning at M&T Bank Stadium.
After Loyola drove 65 yards for a touchdown on the game’s opening possession, Calvert Hall rolled off 34 unanswered points in the opening half and cruised to a 41-13 victory, completing an 11-1 season and clinching its first MIAA A Conference championship.
“I am just proud to be the head football coach of Calert Hall football right now. I am just in a great position with great people,” said victorious head coach Donald Davis, who has led Calvert Hall’s return to football glory over the last five years. “I have a great staff, I have wonderful kids and I am really happy for them right now.
“It was a total team effort – offense, defense, special teams, sophomores, juniors, seniors, we were really able to get a lot of kids involved,” added Davis. “I felt good about the passion and enthusiasm our kids played with, particularly after weathering the storm when Loyola came down and scored.”
Loyola (6-5, 3-2) started quickly indeed, as senior quarterback Mike Fafaul completed a 39-yard pass to Jordan Floyd and a 13-yard toss to Mike Smith to setup a one-yard touchdown run by Deemer Class, for a 6-0 lead early in the first quarter.
Calvert Hall responded rapidly, needing just four snaps to navigate 80 yards and take a 7-6 lead. Junior quarterback Thomas Stuart connected with Brandon Neverdon for a 50-yard pass and run on the opening play of the drive and, three players later, sophomore Stephen Kelly raced around right end for a 37-yard touchdown run.
“It was a great year for our team. Last year’s team started the foundation and this year’s team really picked it up. It’s been fun,” said Kelly. “Everyone played hard today. We were on our game. Credit to Loyola, they are a real good team. Our defense stepped big and our offense stepped up big and it was a big day for The Hall.”
Calvert Hall’s second possession began at the Loyola 25 after the Dons were unsuccessful on a fake punt attempt. Stuart connected with junior CJ Williams for 16 yards on first down and, three plays later, Stuart snuck in from one yard. The extra-point was blocked, but the Cardinals led 13-7.
“Everybody played great today. The line was opening holes, the running backs were doing everything they could, the receivers were blocking downfield and the defense really shut them down after that first drive,” said Stuart, who transferred to Calvert Hall last summer from Good Counsel.
“It’s been great,” said his Stuart of his move to Calvert Hall. “It’s been a smooth transition for me. All the players, and the fans, and the teachers, and my parents – it’s been great coming here.”
The onslaught continued on the Cardinals’ next possession as Neverdon rolled through a gapping hole and sprinted 58 yards to the end zone. Loyola blocked another extra point, but Calvert Hall led 19-7 at the end of one quarter.
The Cardinal defense, which absolutely dominated after Loyola’s initial march, put a score on the board early in the second quarter, as junior Trevor Williams picked off Fafaul and raced 41 yards for a touchdown. Stuart followed with a two-point conversion pass to Adrian Amos and the Cardinal lead swelled to 27-6.
On the interception, Calvert Hall senior Stefan Janik, who spent most of the day in the Loyola backfield, had Fafaul wrapped up, but the quarterback made a poor decision to float the ball into the flat in an effort to avoid a sack. The ball came right to Williams, who had no one between him and the end zone.
A big return by Class gave Loyola great field possession, at the Calvert Hall 34, but the Dons turned the ball over on downs at their own 38. Amos then rolled off runs of 22 and 28 yards, setting up a 12-yard touchdown run by CJ Williams. Williams was seeing his first action since suffering a knee injury on Oct. 8 against Gilman. He churned out 32 yards on seven carries on Thursday.
Kelly led the Cardinals with 91 yards on just six carries and Neverdon added 64, as the Cardinals ran 32 times for 305 yards.
After another three and out for Loyola, the Dons finally stopped the Cardinals when Class forced a fumble that was recovered by teammate Jeff Jenkins. This started a flurry of turnovers at the end of the first half. Calvert Hall’s Da’Quan Davis intercepted Fafaul and brought the ball all the way back to the Loyola five. However, Stuart was intercepted at the goal line by the Dons’ Taylor Janoskie. Stuart finished 7-for-11 for 95 yards and he rushed two times for 39 yards.
Loyola’s defense stiffened in the second half and Floyd recovered a third quarter fumble to give the Dons three turnovers in the contest, but Calvert Hall did get on the board one more time. On a drive which began late in the third quarter, the Cardinals drove 70 yards in six plays to score on a five yard run by Garrett Keene, early in the fourth. Stuart had a 19-yard completion to CJ Williams to open the drive and took off from of the pocket for a 38-yard run to setup a first and goal from the five. Kelly also had a 24-yard run during the march.
Loyola’s frustrating day was crystalized on it’s next possession. Janoskie, who came on to play quarterback in the second half, completed a pair of passes to Class, covering 68 yards, as the Dons moved to the Calvert Hall one. On a second and goal, however, Class had the ball jarred loose, just shy of the goal line, on a big hit by Tavon Barnes and Calvert Hall’s Tony Keryakos recovered it in the end zone for a touchback. The Dons got one final opportunity and this time Class converted a two-yard run for a touchdown, with only 1:05 remaining, to set the final score.
The win narrows Calvert Hall’s all-time deficit in the Turkey Bowl to 48-35-8 and gives them two straight wins in the series, after Loyola had won the previous six.
The only blemish this season for Calvert Hall was a 21-14 mid-season loss to Georgetown Prep, which came one week after the Cardinals knocked off top-ranked Gilman. Ironically, Calvert Hall got a major assist from Loyola, 12 days ago, when the Dons routed Prep. Had the Little Hoyas won that contest, they would have finished the season as tri-champions with Calvert Hall and Gilman, which completed its season at 4-1 in the MIAA A Conference. Despite the tie between the Cardinals and Greyhounds, Calvert Hall wins the championship because it took the head-to-head meeting.
With the victory and title in hand, Davis reflected on the journey.
“It’s a long, long process. It takes a lot of work. It does not fall to one person,” said Davis. “Our administration, our faculty, our kids, my staff and my family, eveyone of them has really contributed to what has happened today. It’s a lot of people really sacrificing, really putting this cause ahead of themselves, in a lot of ways.”
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t Hall 41, Loyola Blakefield 13
|LOY-Class 1 run (kick failed)|
|CH-Kelly 37 run (Levis kick)|
|CH-Stuart 1 run (kick blocked)|
|CH-Neverdon 58 run (kick blocked)|
|CH-T. Williams 41 interception return (Amos pass from Stuart)|
|CH. C. Williams 12 run (Levis kick)|
|CH-Keene 5 run (Levis kick)|
LOY-Class 2 run (Dubyoski kick)