Calvert Hall ran its defensive game plan to near perfection Saturday against No. 2 McDonogh. The No. 11 Cardinals harassed star quarterback Rudy Johnson, took away the run and left one of the area's most prolific offenses searching for answers. And, still, it wasn't enough.
Johnson completed a 23-yard pass to Justin Gross early in the fourth quarter, setting up the quarterback's 1-yard touchdown plunge, and the host Eagles eked out a 7-0 win to set up Saturday's showdown with rival Gilman for the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference title.
"When you have a quarterback like him, you have to keep taking your shots," McDonogh coach Dom Damico said. "We just kind of kept going to the well with Rudy. We knew we'd get one of them in."
Johnson completed seven of 12 passes for 139 yards, and was sacked four times as the Eagles (8-1 overall, 4-0 A Conference) - who entered the game averaging 30 points - produced their lowest scoring output in two years.
"We put together one of the best defensive games possible against an explosive offense," Cardinals coach Donald Davis said. "We just couldn't score."
Though both teams produced 167 yards of offense, Calvert Hall (6-4, 2-2) continually came up short in key situations, with four of its drives stalling inside McDonogh's 30-yard line.
With the game still scoreless midway through the third quarter, the Cardinals got as close as the 14 before McDonogh's defense, led by run-stopping linebacker Isaac Jorgensen, stopped running back C.J. Williams for no gain on a fourth-and-1.
"They just wanted to run the ball right down our throats, and we didn't let them," Damico said.
McDonogh had similar frustrations, missing an early 22-yard field-goal attempt set up by a 44-yard pass from Johnson to Gross. Early in the fourth quarter, however, the Eagles finally scored.
Backed up deep in its territory after a personal foul, McDonogh quickly moved the ball past midfield on a 43-yard pass over the middle from Johnson to Neill Kennedy. After a pass-interference penalty, Johnson's pass to Gross along the sideline set up the game's lone score.
"They were pressing us, rushing three and four, and dropping a lot of guys in coverage," Damico said. "Rudy hung in there. He got sacked a couple times, but he made the plays and made the throws when we had to make them."
CH 0 0 0 0 - 0
M 0 0 0 7 - 7
M-Johnson 1 run (Eby kick)