Mount St. Joseph came into Friday night's came at Calvert Hall with nothing to lose and a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference berth on the line.
Unfortunately for the Gaels, the Cardinals (8-1, 4-1 conference) also had the incentive of locking down the second seed, which they did with a workmanlike 26-7 victory at Paul Angelo Russo Stadium.
Calvert Hall will host third-seeded McDonogh next Friday night at the same site. The winner of that game will meet the Gilman-Archbishop Spalding victor on Nov. 18 at Towson University.
Should the Cardinals advance, they will then only have six days before their annual Turkey Bowl encounter against archrival Loyola Blakefield.
Yet Calvert Hall coach Donald Davis said he welcomed the opportunity to keep the season alive.
"I'm just thrilled we were able to give our seniors one more home game," said Davis as the big crowd filed out of the stadium on a chilly night. "We know McDonogh will be hungry. They're just about the last folks you want to see, because (coach) Dom (Damico) always gets the most out of his players."
The Eagles proved as much last Sunday, falling to the Cardinals, 48-42, in triple overtime.
Against St. Joe (3-6, 2-4) , Calvert Hall scored on its opening drive, covering 65 yards in just four plays and finished on a 10-yard sweep by senior running back Brandon Neverdon. After junior Austen Strachen's conversion kick it was 7-0 with 10:04 left in the first quarter.
Junior Stephen Kelly hauled in a pass from senior quarterback Thomas Stuart, made a terrific inside cut and motored 27 yards down the sideline for the Cardinals' second score of the evening and a 13-0 advantage at the 6:05 mark of the second quarter.
At that point, the Gaels could have packed it in emotionally.
Instead, they responded a minute later when sophomore quarterback Bryan Jangro found senior wideout Samuel Benjamin cutting across the middle for a 35-yard touchdown. Junior Mike Grasso's point-after made it 13-7.
Calvert Hall put some distance between itself and the Gaels by driving 92 yards in just 1:27 to jump ahead, 19-7, on a 2-yard plunge by senior fullback Garrett Flannery with 30 seconds remaining in the half.
Stuart widened the margin with a 35-yard strike to senior Trevor Williams after a scramble to his left on a broken play with five seconds left in the third period.
"He's like a little Ben Roethlisberger," Mt. St. Joe coach Blake henry said. "Most of his good plays come outside the pocket."
The Gaels' next effort to get back into the game was stymied by an interception by junior linebacker Robbie Jones, who also had a sack and forced a fumble.
St. Joe also had a long touchdown pass called back by a holding penalty.
"They forced us into some bad plays and we made some mistakes, too," Henry said.