After Red Lion Christian Academy of Delaware pulled within a point of second-ranked Calvert Hall with a touchdown in the final minutes of Friday night's showdown of regional powers, it appeared overtime was inevitable.
But on the ensuing extra point, the Cardinals' Da'Quan Davis timed the snap perfectly and blocked the kick.
C.J. Williams then ripped off a 35-yard run, allowing Calvert Hall to take a knee and hold on for a 28-27 victory in front of an estimated 3,000 fans at Paul Angelo Russo Stadium. It was the first game played under the new permanent lights at the stadium.
"I was thinking block, and I knew we needed a big play," said Davis, who has committed to West Virginia. "I knew I had to step up, and I went up there and I got it. It's big. It came down to one play, and we made it."
Red Lion freshman quarterback David Sills, who has already committed to the University of Southern California, shook off a slow start and threw two touchdown passes. But he was intercepted twice.
Calvert Hall quarterback Thomas Stuart threw three touchdown passes, including the go-ahead score on a 15-yard connection with Kyle Levere on a fourth-and-4 with three minutes remaining.
"Coach [Donald] Davis really showed confidence in us, putting us back out there when we could have kicked the field goal," Stuart said. "The line blocked incredible, and so did the running backs."
Red Lion entered the game with two impressive wins this season. The Lions ran past Youngstown Ursuline, the three-time defending Ohio state champion, 54-18, and ended Annapolis Area Christian's 18-game winning streak last week in Annapolis.
But the Cardinals proved to be a more formidable opponent.
Calvert Hall opened the scoring with 40 seconds remaining in the first quarter when Will Johnson intercepted Sills and ran 10 yards for a touchdown. Red Lion took a 7-6 lead on the ensuing possession, a 10-play, 77-yard scoring drive capped by a 7-yard pass from Sills to Daikiel Shorts.
The Cardinals ate almost seven minutes off the clock on their next possession. Stuart then found Stephen Kelly on a 14-yard pass, and Calvert Hall led 14-7 with 3:41 left in the second quarter. Stuart then led Calvert Hall on another scoring drive just before the half, throwing a 34-yard touchdown pass to Trevor Williams for a 21-7 lead.
The Cardinals ran 19 times and threw 11 in the first half.
"Our kids and my assistant coaches deserve all the credit," Davis said. "These kids hung in there when we were up, when we were tied, when things didn't look good. The coaches made the necessary adjustments. I got to be the most fortunate football coach on the face of the planet."
Sills cut the margin to 21-14 on a 21-yard pass to Dhameer Bradley with 7:06 left in the third quarter. The Lions then tied the game at 21 on a 2-yard run by Wendell Smallwood with one minute remaining in the third quarter.
The Cardinals eventually answered on Stuart's pass to Levere.
No. 2 Calvert Hall 28, Red Lion (Del.) 27
RL - 0 7 14 6 – 27
CH - 6 15 0 7 – 28
C-Johnson 10 interception (kick failed)
R- Sills 7 pass to Shorts (Decloux kick)
C- Stuart 7 pass to Kelly (Stuart pass to Williams)
C- Stuart 34 pass to Williams (Strachen kick)
R- Sills 21 pass to Bradley (Decloux kick)
R – Smallwood 2 run (Decloux kick)
C- Stuart 15 pass to Levere (Strachen kick)
R-Smallwood 2 run (kick blocked)