After squeaking out a double-overtime victory over Mount St. Joseph in the regular season, No. 2 Calvert Hall left nothing to chance by thrashing the Gaels, 34-11, in a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference semifinal Saturday at Archbishop Spalding.
The Cardinals (9-2, 5-1 conference) were all business against the upstart Gaels (3-8, 1-7), who earned a rematch with Calvert Hall by beating third-seeded Spalding in an opening-round upset last week.
Still, the Cardinals' stellar defense did not allow a touchdown until 2:47 remained in the game on a 10-yard run by Mount St. Joseph quarterback Bryan Jangro.
"We came out focused on the basics," Calvert Hall senior linebacker Cole Atkinson said. "We played assignment football -- keeping to the game plan. We emphasized stopping their backs (Nevone McCrimmon and Carey Wells-Jowers). Once we contained them, it was just straight football."
Calvert Hall struck first on a 14-yard pass from junior quarterback Colar Kuhns to senior wideout Logan Kurek midway through the first quarter.
Mountt St. Joseph countered on a 33-yard field goal by James Nelson one play before senior running back Stephen Kelly took a delayed handoff from Kuhns, faked a linebacker, sprinted outside and raced down the sideline for a 14-3 lead with 52 seconds left in the opening period. Kelly totaled 147 yards on just seven carries, while his senior sidekick Garrett Keene had 119 yards on as many attempts.
The Cardinals added to their lead on a two-play series that began with a 49-yard run by Kelly to the Gaels' 15-yard line. Kuhns and Levere then connected for another score and a 20-3 advantage with 11:26 remaining in the third quarter.
"It felt good to get one here," Kelly said, noting he had two scoring runs negated in the regular-season finale in a win over Spalding.
Keene's 55-yard run set up his 5-yard bolt up the middle near the end of the third quarter to extend the lead to 26-3.
Keene added a bruising 25-yard scoring in the fourth quarter to secure Calvert Hall's second consecutive berth in the conference final, which will be played next Saturday at Johnny Unitas Stadium at 7:30 p.m.
"They executed and ran hard," Mount St. Joseph coach Blake Henry said. "And we missed some tackles. They just played better than we did."
M- 3 0 0 8 11 CH- 14 0 12 8 34 C-Levere 14 pass from Kuhns (Soriano kick) M-Nelson 33 FG C-Kelly 68 run (Soriano kick) C-Levere 15 pass from Kuhns (kick failed) C-Keene 5 run (pass failed) C-Keene 25 run (Soriano run) M-Jangro 10 run (Nelson kick)