In a season where a maturing defense returned Calvert Hall football to prominence in the Baltimore area, the Cardinal offense saved its biggest performance for the season’s biggest stage.
Led by an inspired effort from senior quarterback Patrick Fitzgerald, the Cardinals stepped on the gas in the opening quarter and never let up until the game was in hand, as they broke a six game losing streak to arch-rival Loyola Blakefield, winning the 90th Turkey Bowl, 47-28, Thursday morning at M&T Bank Stadium.
A crowd of 11,898 witnessed the highest scoring Turkey Bowl of all time, as Calvert Hall built a 40-7 lead, before Loyola quarterback Connor Bruns rallied the Dons to three fourth quarter scores to soften the loss.
Mixing the pass and the run beautifully, Fitzgerald led Calvert Hall (8-4) to scores on three of four first half drives, capping each with a rushing touchdown.
Fitzgerald, who finished with 96 yards passing and 19 yards rushing, rolled left for a seven yard TD run and then snuck in for a pair of one yard scores to stake the Cardinals to a 21-0 halftime lead. The 5-foot-6 Cardinal field boss, then flipped the ball in the flat to sophomore Trevor Williams, on the first possession of the third quarter, and Williams raced 56 yards for a 28-0 Cardinal lead.
“I got to give credit to the offensive line for those touchdowns and the defense played great, shut them out in the first half,” said Fitzgerald. “You have to tip your hat off to Loyola. They’re a good team. They fight hard. It’s good to go out with a win for my last game.”
Two possessions later, the Cardinals all but salted away the victory, when sophomore CJ Williams rambled 31 yards down the right sideline for an impressive touchdown run, breaking the goal line plain with a five yard lunge.
Later, Calvert Hall added a one yard plunge by Corey Boliek and a 35 yard touchdown run by Phil Castronova.
Bruns, who played brilliantly in last year’s win by the Dons, had a slow start, as he was picked off three times – twice by senior Trevon Wilks and once by junior Joe Casperriello. But, he battled back to finish with 220 yards passing, three touchdown passes and one rushing touchdown. In addition, senior Vince Snarski finished his brilliant Loyola career with 91 yards rushing on 24 carries.
In the third quarter, Joe Curren came out of the backfield to catch a seven yard touchdown pass to put Loyola on the board. Bruns then scrambled for a nine yard fourth quarter touchdown run, before completing touchdown passes to Ryan Cullen (seven yards) and Deemer Class (22 yards).
Although he deflected much of the credit, the game also was a major milestone for Calvert Hall coach Donald Davis.
Brought to the Hall four years ago, after a successful stint at Cardinal Gibbons, this Cardinal alum endured three tough years of rebuilding and three lopsided losses in the Turkey Bowl.
After an 0-2 start this fall, the pressure mounted even further, but a squad which is still extremely young finally started to come of age and its confidence built week after week.
In October, the Cardinals traveled to Gilman and stunned the Greyhounds to signal that one of the area’s most storied programs was back on track. A shot at the MIAA Confernce crown eventually faded with losses to Georgetown Prep and McDonogh, but for this year, a Turkey Bowl victory would be as big as any championship. Thursday, that prize was delivered.
“All the credit goes to my staff and our kids. Our kids have fought hard all season long,” said Davis, who was 0-3 in the Turkey Bowl as a player. “We fought back from 0-2 and we won five straight. We fought back from the loss to Georgetown Prep and really kept focus and kept building towards this moment.”
Loyola continues to lead the series 48-34-8. The Dons finished the season at 7-4, but just 1-4 in the MIAA A Conference. Calvert Hall posted an overall mark of 8-4 and a 3-2 record in the A Conference.
Calvert Hall 47, Loyola 28
CH – 7 – 14 – 19 – 7 – 47
LOY – 0 – 0 – 7 – 21 – 28
CH-Fitzgerald 6 run (Karolenko kick)
CH-Fitzgerald 1 run (Karolenko kick)
CH-Fitzgerald 1 run (Karolenko kick)
CH-T. Williams 56 pass from Fitzgerald (kick failed)
CH-C. Williams 31 run (Karolenko kick)
LOY-Curran 7 pass from Bruns (Bradley kick)
CH-Boliek 1 run (pass failed)
CH-Castronova 35 run (Karolenko kick)
LOY-Bruns 9 run (kick blocked) LOY-Cullen 7 pass from Bruns (Hnatiuk pass from Snarski) LOY-Class 22 pass from Bruns (Bradley kick)