A pair of 18-play scoring drives deliver a 17-7 win for the Cavaliers


As recently as Thursday Archbishop Spalding and Calvert Hall were each preparing to play different opponents in their respective 2020 varsity football season openers. The nuances of an “open-season” in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, flipped the script and sent Spalding to Calvert Hall on Saturday evening for a hastily arranged matchup.

The Cavaliers, who were scheduled to meet Mount St. Joseph in their opener, scored a pair of first half touchdowns and added a fourth quarter field goal to top the Cardinals, 17-7.

The reason for the flip in the schedule is of course COVID-19.

When word was announced on Thursday that St. Joe had a positive COVID test on its roster, its contest with Spalding, as well as its game with Calvert Hall scheduled for next week, was cancelled. On Friday, St. Mary’s, which was slated to play at Calvert Hall on Saturday, also was hit with a positive test on its roster and that game was cancelled. Rather than both teams sitting idle, Calvert Hall and Spalding seized the opportunity to move up one of their two planned meetings for this season.

Returning to the action on the field, the visiting Cavaliers broke on top on their second possession of game, after Bryson Carter returned a punt 13 yards to the Calvert Hall 26 yard line. Spalding needed just three plays to score from there, as Zakee Wheatley broke loose down the left sideline and hauled in a 25-yard pass from quarterback Nick Gutierrez. Corey Butts added the extra-point kick and the Cavs led 7-0.

Late in the first quarter, carrying over early into the second quarter, Spalding put together a 14 play drive that moved the ball from its own seven to the Calvert Hall nine. A delay of game penalty pushed the Cavs back to the 14 where Butts attempted a 31-yard field goal. But, the Cardinals blocked that kick and took over at their own 30. That launched a 10 play 70-yard drive which was capped by a 19-yard pass from Amir Jenkins to Daniel Owens to tie the contest, at 7-7.

Spalding respond immediately, launching an 18-play 80-yard scoring drive. Jordan Harris cashed in with a 2-yard touchdown run to complete the march.

Spalding’s final score also came as the result of an 18-play drive, spread across the end of the third quarter into the fourth quarter, this time covering 74-yards and leading to a 28-yard field goal by Butts to stretch the Cavaliers’ lead to 17-7, which held up for the final.

Calvert Hall got in position for a 19-yard field goal attempt on its next possession, but Spalding blocked that attempt with 4:59 to play. The Spalding offense managed to run the clock down to 2:12 before punting back to Calvert Hall and the Cavalier defense was able to close out the victory from there.

Gutierrez passed for 128 yards and the one score and rushed for 84 more, while Shamar Esbrand-Smith rushed for 83 for the Cavaliers. Jordan Pennick and Bryson Carter each caught six passes.

Jalen Robertson had 1.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss to lead the Spalding defense. Jason Robertson also had a sack and tied for the team-high with eight tackles.

Jenkins passed for 127 yards for Calvert Hall. The Cardinals, however, were limited to just 132 yards rushing.

ARCHBISHOP SPALDING 17, CALVERT HALL 7

AS 7 7 0 3 — 17
CH 0 7 0 0 — 7

1ST Q
AS – Zakee Wheatley 25 pass from Nick Gutierrez (Corey Butts kick)

2ND Q
CH – Daniel Owens 19 pass from Amir Jenkins (Andrew Petrino kick)
AS – Jordan Harris 2 run (Butts kick)

4TH Q
AS – Butts 28 FG