Both No. 7 Calvert Hall and No. 6 Archbishop Spalding had ample chances to win Saturday's second game of the I-95 Kickoff Classic at Towson University.
In a triple-overtime thriller, however, a little bit of luck ultimately may have been the deciding factor.
After Spalding twice failed in overtime to win or take the lead on kicks, the Cardinals prevailed when quarterback Thomas Stuart ducked left and dived across the goal line from 2 yards out, avenging last year's loss to the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference champions with a 26-20 win.
"In a game with this many twists and turns, you know that one play, one bounce of the ball can go with you or against you," Calvert Hall coach Donald Davis said. "But if you just stay patient … things at some point have to go your way."
Stuart, a junior transfer from Good Counsel, finished 19-for-32 for 240 yards, including 8-for-11 for 131 yards in the final five minutes of regulation and overtime.
His finest drive came as the Cardinals (2-0) trailed, 14-6, with just over 10 minutes left. Stuart completed five straight passes, capped by a screen to running back Garrett Keene, who then broke three tackles to score from 38 yards out.
He then found receiver Kyle Levere for the two-point conversion.
"They started hitting us underneath for some of their passes," Spalding coach Mike Whittles said. "What we didn't want them to do was have any big plays."
Calvert Hall's defense improved as well, limiting Cavaliers running back K.K. Smith, who had run for 78 yards in the first half, to just 21 after halftime.
Still, Spalding had chances to win in overtime.
First, after tying the game at 20-20 on J.D. Izon's 1-yard run, Kevin Weiman, with a chance to kick the potential game-winning extra point — through college uprights slightly thinner than standard high school width — missed inches to the right. The Cavaliers then missed their chance to take the lead in the third overtime when Weiman's 27-yard field goal attempt bounced off the left upright.
"I just thought God was with us," Stuart said. "I just thought we were going to win after that."
The loss dropped the Cavaliers to 0-2 but did little to dampen their spirits.
"If we play 10 times against that team, we go 5-5," Whittles said. " It's too bad somebody had to lose." Calvert Hall 26Spalding 20, 3OT S 0 7 0 7 0 6 0 — 20CH 0 0 6 8 0 6 6 — 26 S—K. Smith 4 run (Weiman kick)
CH—C. Williams 3 run (kick failed)
S—White 15 run (Weiman kick)
C—Keene 38 pass from Stuart (Levere pass from Stuart)
C—Keene 10 run (pas failed)
S—Izon 10 run (kick failed)
C—Stuart 2 run