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Gaels run away from Cavaliers in first quarter

The Baltimore Sun

Everything went Archbishop Spalding's way the past two years. The Cavaliers won the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference championship in 2005 and 2006 and brought a 14-game winning streak into last night's season opener with Mount St. Joseph .

But nothing went right for No. 10 Spalding in this game. The Cavaliers made costly mistakes that helped Mount St. Joseph roll to a 28-point first quarter, and the Gaels pulled away for a surprisingly easy 47-14 victory at Arbutus Middle School.

Mount St. Joseph went just 3-7 last year, but looked like a winning team last night. The Gaels used their advantage in speed to post several big plays, and outran Spalding in every possible direction.

"We thought that if we got up on them that they would have a tough time coming back," Gaels coach Chip Armstrong said. "I thought ... we would have too much speed offensively."

Quarterback Chris Collins led the way. He scored on a 75-yard punt return and ran for three other touchdowns, one of which was 62 yards. Collins finished with 111 yards on just 10 carries.

Shelton Hall-Bennett ran for two 1-yard touchdowns, and Chris Costabile threw an 89-yard scoring pass to Nick Hutcherson.

Collins' punt return gave the Gaels an early 7-0 lead. The Cavaliers then misplayed the ensuing kickoff, waiting too long to try to pick up a loose ball. Hall-Bennett recovered it at the 6-yard line and ran for the 1-yard score four plays later.

Spalding then fumbled on the first play of its next two drives, giving the Gaels the ball at Spalding's 30 and 28, respectively. Hall-Bennett ran for a 1-yard touchdown on the first drive, and Collins added a 7-yard score on the next possession, giving St. Joe a 28-0 lead with 21 seconds left in the quarter.

The Cavaliers were clearly deflated at that point.

"In the first quarter, it was like, what else could go wrong," Spalding coach Mike Whittles said. "It was a bad dream that became a nightmare and got worse than that."

The Gaels had a 35-6 halftime lead and stopped a few Cavaliers drives in the second half. Nick Kuhl and Nick Whittles each ran for a touchdown for Spalding, but the Cavaliers' grind-it-out offense couldn't rally despite having some good possessions.

"We thought we'd get some big plays, but not that many," Collins said. "That was a big factor for us."

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