With his eighth-ranked football team trailing unranked Cardinal Gibbons, 14-0, at halftime of yesterday's non-league matchup, Calvert Hall coach Bill Mackley curbed his desire to yell and instead had more of a fatherly chat with his players.
"What we did was we sat down and we talked as a family," said Mackley. "We talked about what we did wrong and we talked about it as a family. Our inward feeling was that we can do this."
Calvert Hall went out and did it, scoring four unanswered touchdowns in the second half, including three in the pivotal third quarter, en route to a 28-14 win over the visiting Crusaders.
"It was all pride in the second half," said Calvert Hall linebacker Jason Conroy, who contributed to the come-from-behind win with a key fumble recovery and an interception. "We knew we could beat them if we just went out and played the way we know how to play."
After battling between the 20-yard lines throughout the scoreless first quarter, Gibbons (2-1) ended the scoring drought by manufacturing an eight-play drive that was capped by an 18-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Rocky Keener to wide receiver Chris Poole with 8:31 left in the half.
The Cardinals thought they had pulled even a short time later. Gibbons' Kevin Dukes fumbled a punt into the arms of Calvert Hall's Chris Nohe, who raced to the end zone. The play, however, was ruled dead because a whistle was blown inadvertently while the ball was loose, negating the touchdown and giving Gibbons possession.
The Crusaders took over at their own 29-yard line and eight plays later, were celebrating their score -- a 1-yard plunge by fullback Chris Cortina -- with 1:18 left in the half.
"These Gibbons kids deserve a lot of credit because they took the ball right down our throat," said Mackley. "I expect that out of Gibbons because they're a well-coached group of kids and they have a lot of speed."
After halftime, Calvert Hall needed only three plays to score as Kevin Tyler took the pitch on an option and sprinted 45 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown. Steve Behnken added the extra point.
The Cardinals went back to the option on their next possession and a 38-yard run by Tyler gave the Cardinals first-and-goal at the 1. A penalty and a sack nearly killed the drive, but the Cards rebounded and pulled to within one when Tyler hauled in a screen pass and dove in for the 10-yard score. Calvert Hall's two-point conversion attempt failed and Gibbons still led by a point, 14-13.
But not for long. Conroy's fumble recovery set up a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Dennis Grinestaff and Lance Askins later returned an interception 24 yards for the game's final touchdown.
"They started pounding us in the second half and three mistakes killed us," said Gibbons coach Frank Trcka. "Calvert Hall is a good ballclub. You come back from 14-0, you're a good ballclub."