Chesapeake coach Rick Zentz filed away the motivational speeches this week and left the bullhorn in the garage.
Clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in Class 2A by hundredths of a point was all the motivation his team needed.
In a must-win game at Catonsville, the Bayhawks dominated play on both sides of the ball and rolled to a 36-0 victory in Baltimore County 1A-2A play.
Less than a week after Saturday's loss to Overlea, the Bayhawks (7-1, 6-1) came back strong, out-gaining the Comets, 343-138, as their offensive and defensive lines controlled the game.
"The loss to Overlea really got us down, so this was a crucial game for us," said lineman Craig Mosier. "All that was on our minds today was getting to the playoffs."
On offense, Mosier and company helped open gaping holes for running backs Steve Kelley (eight carries, 130 yards, two touchdowns) and brother James Kelley (five carries, 48 yards, one touchdown) and offered plenty of protection for quarterback Jermaine Johnson (7-for-11, 119 yards, two passing touchdowns, one rushing touchdown).
But they played just as well on defense, limiting the Comets' Nicholas Wilkins, who entered the day as the area's second-leading rusher with 842 yards, to 20 yards on 13 carries.
So confident was Zentz in his defense that he called for an onside kick after Chesapeake's first three scores, giving Catonsville (5-3, 4-2) the ball near midfield each time.
"The guys knew what was at stake," said Zentz. "A loss and we stay home for Thanksgiving. Especially after last week, we knew we had to prove we could could play some football."
The Bayhawks started early, driving 51 yards on their first three offensive plays of the game and taking an 8-0 lead on Steve Kelley's 24-yard run and two-point conversion run 3:57 into the game.
Chesapeake extended the lead to 14-0 on its second possession, with a little help from Catonsville. On fourth-and-11 from their 34, the Comets botched a punt when the snap from center rolled to the 7, where the Bayhawks recovered.
Two plays later, after a penalty, Steve Kelley scored from the 12, and the rout was on.
"This was probably the best blocking I've gotten all year," said Kelley. "Everybody was a little nervous and on edge before the game, but we knew we had to win. If we didn't, we'd be out of it for sure."