Inspirational halftime speeches are usually overrated when a coach is trying to pick up a flat team.
But yesterday afternoon, it was just what Cardinal Gibbons needed.
The Crusaders scored once in the third quarter and once in the fourth to top host Severn, 14-7, in a Maryland Scholastic Association Armstrong B Conference game.
Quarterback Rocky Keener threw for one touchdown and ran for the other for Gibbons (3-1, 2-0).
"We challenged them at halftime to play the kind of football we were capable of," said Gibbons coach Frank Trcka. "We went at them a little harder in the second half and we played with a much better attitude."
The challenge was needed because the underrated Admirals (2-4, 1-1) had controlled the Crusaders' offense in the first half, holding it to 49 yards on the ground.
Severn's offense was not doing much better, but the Admirals got a big play on the second snap of the second quarter.
Senior running back Dolph Habeck took the handoff through the line, and after evading two Gibbons defensive backs, streaked 83 yards for the game's first score. Jason Scott's extra point gave Severn a 7-0 lead.
Severn received the ball to start the second half but had to punt after three plays.
The Crusaders took possession on their 29 and went 71 yards on 15 plays, including two third-down conversions and a fourth-down conversion to score a touchdown.
Keener hit Corey Butts for a 25-yard strike on fourth-and-15 to bring the Crusaders within one. A two-point conversion try failed, but Gibbons had regained the momentum.
Gibbons' second possession of the fourth quarter allowed it to take the lead. On third-and-seven, Keener rolled out to pass but saw a big hole to run through and went 34 yards to give his team the lead.
"The play is designed for a run or throw option," Keener said. "I wanted to throw, but then our guard Corey Debnam took out two of their guys with a great block. The hole opened up and I was able to cut back."
Keener then hit Butts for a two-point conversion, making it 14-7.
Amid Keener's heroics, tailback Kevin Dukes quietly carried the offense with 89 yards rushing on 19 carries.
Severn coach Jim Doyle said his team played well enough to win.
"We had a couple of bad breaks go our way today," Doyle said. "We had a fumble after a big pass completion, and we had two defenders run into each other on Gibbons' touchdown pass. Things are starting to come together, though."