When Loyola scored a touchdown to pull within a point of Archbishop Spalding in the second quarter of Thursday's game, the teams appeared destined to equal last year's meeting that produced a combined 90 points.
The Cavaliers defense had other ideas.
Archbishop Spalding used a goal-line stand at the end of the first half and a pair of interceptions in the second half to pull away for a 34-13 victory over the Dons. Spalding (5-1) held Loyola scoreless for the final 28 minutes, 29 seconds after taking a slim 14-13 lead in the second quarter.
"I challenged the defense in the second half and said somebody needs to step up and not let this happen," Spalding coach Kyle Schmitt said.
Loyola moved into Spalding territory on eight of its 10 possessions. After scoring touchdowns on two of their first three trips, the Dons turned the ball over on downs five other times and turned the ball over twice.
With the Cavaliers leading, 20-13, late in the first half, Loyola appeared as though it was going to tie the game heading to halftime. After a 33-yard completion put the ball on the 1-yard line, Mike Mancuso broke up a pass in the end zone and Cody Winokur got a good push on the final play of the half and stopped Will Koras short of the end zone to preserve the seven-point lead.
Loyola got the ball first to start the second half, but Nick Vermillion's interception at midfield led to a Josh Chase 2-yard touchdown run that made it 27-13 with 9 minutes left in the third quarter.
"I think we played OK in the first half, but in the second half we came out with a lot more energy," Vermillion said. "Our coach gave us a challenge that we needed to stop them, and we did."
Loyola got inside the Spalding 10-yard line on two straight possessions in the fourth, but Mancuso got pressure on Jason Smith to force an incompletion on fourth down on one drive. After a Spalding turnover deep in its own territory, David Harding intercepted a pass in the end zone to keep the Cavaliers' lead at 14.
Harding, who opened the scoring with a 15-yard touchdown reception, capped the scoring when he took a shovel pass 39 yards for a touchdown with 3:55 left.
In addition to his interception, Harding had three catches for 61 yards and the two scores.
"It was a short week, but we prepared very well," Harding said. "Our coach challenged us at halftime and told us we need to step up on 'D' and I thought we answered that very well."
Offensively, the Cavaliers turned in a pair of 100-yard rushers, with Chase running for 178 yards on 25 carries and a pair of touchdowns, including a 33-yard run. Evan Fochtman had 109 yards on just six carries, including a 78-yard touchdown run. Fochtman also completed 11 of 18 passes for 136 yards and the two scores to Harding.
After winning just three games last year, the Cavaliers are 5-1 and have won four straight. They've given up a total of eight points in the second half of their last two wins. The MIAA A Conference schedule does get a lot tougher, with road games remaining with Calvert Hall, Gilman and Mount St. Joseph and a home contest with McDonogh.
"We're going to take it one week at a time," Schmitt said. "We can't look ahead to the game with Gilman since we have Calvert Hall next, and they beat us last year."
Loyola (3-3)01300—13Spalding (5-1)71377—34
AS — Harding 15 pass from Fochtman (Butts kick)
LO — Leishear 23 pass from Koras (Rowley kick)
AS — Fochtman 78 run (Butts kick)
LO — Okoronkwo 9 run (kick failed)
AS — Chase 33 run (kick failed)
AS — Chase 2 run (Butts kick)
AS — Harding 39 pass from Fochtman (Butts kick)
PASSING: LO — Koras 14-22-163-1-1; Smith 8-21-77-0-1; AS — Fochtman 11-18-136-2-1; Harding 0-1-0-0-0. RECEIVING: LO — Leishear 5-86-1; Price 7-62; Smith 2-33; Young 3-26; AS — Harding 3-61-2; Bradford 4-48; Jones 2-10. RUSHING: LO — Okoronkwo 14-58-1; A. Smith 7-17; J. Smith 8-41; AS — Chase 25-178-2; Fochtman 6-10-9-1.