A Turkey Bowl tie, a Thanksgiving Day letdown

For decades, the mood of Thanksgiving celebrations for hundreds of area private-school families has depended on the result of a single football game, the near-century-old tilt between Loyola Blakefield and Calvert Hall. It was simple: If your school won, the turkey tasted especially good. If it lost, glum faces and sour spirits prevailed.

Which must have made Thanksgiving Day 1962 a dispirited, tedious affair all over. Nobody won that year — the final 8-8 score was the most recent of eight ties in a rivalry that goes all the way back to 1920.

On paper, the two teams didn’t have much to play for. Neither team had a winning record (Calvert Hall was 1-6, while Loyola came in at 3-5). Mount St. Joseph had already clinched the Catholic Series championship on Nov. 11 by defeating Loyola’s Dons, 16-0 (it was the Gaels’ first title since 1959; Loyola had won it the previous two seasons). But as every Calvert Hall or Loyola alum knows, none of that really matters. As veteran Dons coach Joe Brune once said, “We could have a losing season, then beat Calvert Hall, and alumni would say, ‘Great year, coach.' "

Nearly 8,200 fans showed up at Memorial Stadium to watch the game (a number that would be nearly tripled by the afternoon’s City-Poly tilt, which drew a crowd of 24,581, according to the next day’s Sun). Things looked supremely promising for the Dons when, on their first possession, quarterback Jack Lentz handed the ball to halfback Dick Link and he scored from nine yards out. Lentz himself scored on the two-point conversion, and Loyola was ahead, 8-0.

That’s how the first half ended, and being behind clearly didn’t sit well with the Cardinals. “Calvert Hall was a fired-up crew at the start of the second half,” Evening Sun reporter Larry Shane wrote in that day’s editions (one of the glories of having an afternoon newspaper like the Evening Sun was that the morning’s events could appear in print the same day).

After recovering a fumble on the Dons’ seven-yard line, the Cardinals got on the board when fullback Joe Gorman scored from four yards out. After quarterback Dave Burke ran for the two-point conversion, the score was knotted at 8-8.

And that’s where the score stayed. Calvert Hall threatened again in the third quarter, advancing to the Loyola 28, but junior halfback Bobby Kropfelder’s field-goal attempt was short and to the left. For the rest of the game, reporter Shane wrote, “neither of the teams got closer than their rival’s 35.”

Contemporary reports don’t say how quietly the two schools’ fan bases departed Memorial Stadium that afternoon. But assuredly, at homes throughout the Baltimore area that night, the Thanksgiving turkey tasted kinda bland.

ckaltenbach@baltsun.com

twitter.com/chriskaltsun

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