Calvert Hall quarterback Noah Brannock and wide receiver Donnie Lewis have developed chemistry together. It was on full display in Saturday’s Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference showdown.
The No. 6 Cardinals used a stingy defense and a big day from Brannock and Lewis to defeat visiting and second-ranked McDonogh, 24-7, in a key game for both teams.
Calvert Hall (2-0, 1-0) did an excellent job of using the run to set up the pass, seemingly making a play through the air, mostly to Lewis, whenever it needed to.
“We’ve been meeting in our spare time doing the summer and working out together,” said Brannock, who connected with Lewis five times for 77 yards. “We used the run to set up the pass, and when I called his number, he was ready.”
The Cardinals got to work late in the first quarter. After a 13-yard pass from Brannock to Lewis and an 11-yard Brannock run set Calvert Hall up at the McDonogh 25-yard-line, Brannock threaded a pass to Lewis between two defenders for a touchdown to give the Cardinals a 7-0 lead. The score capped off a six-play, 53-yard drive with 1:03 left in the quarter.
Calvert Hall added to its lead early in the second quarter. The Cardinals took advantage of good field position and another big play as receiver Rahkeem Smith caught a 19-yard pass to advance the ball to the McDonogh 16. Five plays later, Brannock called his own number and ran straight up the middle into the end zone, giving Calvert Hall a 14-0 lead with 9:21 left in the first half.
The Eagles (0-2, 0-1) moved the ball well on the next series, driving from their own 20 to the Calvert Hall 41 in 12 plays. Quarterback Kaden Martin — the son of Ravens wide receivers coach and former Tennessee quarterback Tee Martin — finally found the time to throw and delivered a pass to Kayden Harris in the front of the end zone. Harris, however, was called for a push-off, negating a 41-yard touchdown catch with 2:50 left in the first half.
The Eagles did trim the margin on their first possession of the second half, using a five play, 68-yard drive to cut the score in half. The big play was a 42-yard pass from Martin to Preston Howard to get the ball to the Calvert Hall 14. Two plays later, Stefan Egbe scored from 3 yards out to cut the lead in half, 14-7, with 8:30 left in the third quarter.
Calvert Hall answered again on the next drive, capping a 63-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown from Brannock to Smith with 4:58 left in the third quarter to push the lead to 21-7.
McDonogh never got in sync in the second half. The few big plays the Eagles made were nullified by penalties, and several key players missed plays because of cramping.
The Cardinals added a 23-yard field goal by Andrew Petrino early in the fourth quarter to account for the final margin.
“I couldn’t be more proud of how we played,” Calvert Hall coach Josh Ward said. “Our passing game was really a plus for us. I read that 85% of teams that run the ball effectively also have a good passing game. I think that’s what we did.”
McDonogh coach Hakeem Sule was also complimentary of the Cardinals’ performance.
“Calvert Hall got after us today,” Sule said. “Their quarterback did a great job of leading their team, and he deserves a lot of praise for that. As for us, this is not where we wanted to be. It’s back to the lab for us to see if we can get this worked out.”
McDonogh 24, Calvert Hall 7
McD 0 0 7 0 -- 7
CH 7 7 7 3 -- 24
CH – Lewis 24 pass from Brannock (Petrino kick)
CH – Brannock 10 run (Petrino kick)
McD - Egbe 3 pass from Martin (Asplen kick)
CH – R. Smith 15 pass from Brannock (Petrino kick)
CH – Petrino 23 FG