After a slow start on offense in Saturday's Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference football championship, Archbishop Spalding wanted a big second-half play to break through against Boys' Latin.
The No. 14 Cavaliers got a handful of them.
Among the highlights - Ryan Cochrane's 61-yard run that set up a touchdown by Scott Sharik and Zach Waller's 38-yard touchdown run off a fumble recovery. Those and several more big defensive plays fueled a 12-0 victory that avenged their only regular-season loss and spoiled the No. 8 Lakers' bid for a perfect record before a standing-room-only crowd at Mount St. Joseph.
"We just went out there and played our hardest," Waller said. "Coach wanted a big play every time, and we made the big plays."
Cochrane, a sophomore running back just called up from junior varsity, broke the 61-yard run on the first play from scrimmage in the second half. Two plays later, senior running back Sharik took a pitch from quarterback Donnie Abey and ran 2 yards for a 6-0 lead less than two minutes into the half.
The Lakers (10-1) frequently started their drives in Cavaliers territory and moved the ball well with a lot of short runs by senior running back Patrick Steele, who scored all three touchdowns in the regular-season 20-0 Boys' Latin win. But they struggled inside the 25-yard line.
After coach Mike Whittles' Cavaliers (10-1) scored once, the Lakers drove 64 yards on 11 plays, including passes from quarterback Kevin O'Neil to Marcellus Preston, Michael Turner and Ben Kellar, but O'Neil's pass on first-and-goal from the 10 was picked off by Spalding's Julian Washington.
The Cavaliers' defense then stifled Steele on fourth-and-two, holding him to a yard and change to force the turnover on downs by centimeters.
Waller's touchdown ended Boys' Latin's next possession with 8:11 to go in the game. The Spalding blitz, led by linebacker K.K. Smith, got to O'Neil just as he handed off to Steele.
"I usually do an inside blitz, but coach told me to go outside," Waller said. "K.K blew up the play and the ball came to me, and I just ran 39, 40 yards."
Boys' Latin coach Ritchie Schell lamented the number of missed opportunities for his team.
"We didn't execute," Schell said. "We dropped a touchdown pass. We had 11 penalties. Defensively, we only gave up six points. Wasted opportunities - and you can't do that against a good team. We didn't waste opportunities last time."
AS 0 0 6 6 - 12 BL 0 0 0 0 - 0
AS-Sharik 2 run (kick failed)
AS-Waller 38 fumble return (run failed)