After watching his team lose four times in the final 90 seconds last year, Calvert Hall coach Bill Mackley spent part of the preseason teaching his players more about how to win in the fourth quarter.
The Cardinals appear to be learning quickly.
Chris Nohe scored on a 6-yard run with 7:02 left to give No. 13 Calvert Hall a come-from-behind 17-13 victory over visiting and No. 10 Perry Hall in the opener for both schools yesterday.
Mackley said the Cardinals played well at times last year, but had trouble putting together four good quarters. They struggled even more in the fourth quarter, losing four times in the final 1:27 en route to a 2-9 mark.
"We were not a second-half ballclub," said Mackley, whose team lost to Perry Hall, 30-28, last year after missing a two-point conversion in the final seconds. "They lost their composure in the fourth quarter, even when they were up."
That did not happen yesterday, although it certainly could have. Perry Hall opened the fourth quarter with Kevin Znamirowski (8-for-11, 164 yards) hitting Noah Wilson (four catches, 121 yards) with a 44-yard touchdown pass. Jason Bloom added the extra point for a 13-10 lead with 11:53 left.
The Cardinals, however, came right back. Dennis Hopps took the ensuing kickoff at the 10 and returned it 33 yards. Ten plays later, Nohe started left, bounced outside and scored from six yards out. Steve Behnken's extra point made it 17-13.
"It was wide open," said Nohe. "The cornerback was sucked in. I was hoping it would [be the winning score]."
Nohe finished with 102 yards on 10 carries, including a dazzling 59-yard cross-field run in the third quarter that set up a field goal. Kevin Tyler (58 yards) and Mike Callahan (45) also helped as Calvert Hall rolled up 245 yards on the ground.
Lack of a strong ground game hurt Perry Hall. The Gators finished with only 34 yards rushing -- 17 in each half.
Perry Hall started well, rushing for 22 yards on its first six plays. The final play proved costly as running back Mark Franklin was kneed in the head, suffered a possible concussion, and missed the final 3 1/2 quarters.
Franklin and Mandel Marsh each gained 1,000 yards last year for Perry Hall. With Franklin (11 yards on four carries) out, the Gators lacked an inside threat to set up Marsh's outside speed. He finished with 26 yards on 14 carries.
"It took a big part of [the offense] away," said Perry Hall coach Joe Stoy. "We struggled, and they moved the ball against us."
Perry Hall finished with 164 yards passing and 198 yards overall. Calvert Hall, meanwhile, finished with 337 total yards, gaining 174 in the first half and 163 in the second. Dennis Grinestaff completed six of eight passes for 63 yards.
Mackley thinks his team learned something.
"You have to know how to win," said Mackley. "Now we know how to win. Now we've got to win the right way."