Sixth-ranked Calvert Hall did its best not to look ahead Friday. Thanks to the Cardinals' defense, they never had to worry about playing from behind.
The defense forced three turnovers (two interceptions, one fumble recovery) and got a 24-yard Emmanuel Holder interception return and a safety to score nine points while holding visiting Poly to 97 total yards en route to an easy 29-0 win over the No. 9 Engineers (4-1) on Friday afternoon.
C.J. Williams led the Cardinals (6-0) with 101 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns.
"It's always important for us to say that the opposition didn't crack our defensive code," said Cardinals coach Donald Davis, whose team has recorded three consecutive shutouts. "Our defense is playing well as a unit, and we have a lot of different players fitting into their roles very nicely."
With the Cardinals already up 2-0 after sacking Poly quarterback Darrell Milburn in the end zone, Calvert Hall's offense scored on the second play of the second quarter. Williams' 7-yard run capped a short drive that was set up by Trevor Williams' 37-yard punt return that gave the Cardinals the ball at the Poly 15. Williams' touchdown gave the Cardinals a 9-0 lead with 11:16 left in the half.
Calvert Hall made sure Poly's next possession was a short one when Adrian Amos intercepted Milburn and returned the ball to the Poly 27. Six plays later, quarterback Thomas Stuart found Kyle Levere open in the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown pass to run the lead to 16-0 with 7:57 left in the half.
The Cardinals sealed the game on Poly's second possession of the second half. On a third-and-18 at the Poly 20, Milburn looked for receiver Donovan Riley. But Holder, a defensive lineman, made a one-handed interception and his 24-yard return put the game away, 23-0, with 5:54 left in the third quarter. Williams added another touchdown late for the final margin.
"I knew [Milburn] was trying to get rid of the ball," Holder said. "I knew he was going to let it go, and I just jumped in front of it."
The Cardinals will play top-ranked Gilman at home on Friday at 7 p.m.
"This game is so big I circled it three times on my calendar," said Cardinals running back Brandon Neverdon, who rushed for 33 yards on nine carries. "We're always ready for Gilman, and we love the underdog role. We'll be ready."
Poly coach Roger Wrenn said his team lost the battle in the trenches.
"We have a lot of great skill position players, but we graduated our line and our defense last year," Wrenn said. "It's frustrating for the skilled players, but our line is starting to come together. We knew this would be a physical game, and that's exactly what it was."
P 0 0 0 0 — 0
C 2 14 7 6 — 29
CH—Williams 7 run (Levis kick)
CH—Levere 10 pass from Stuart (Levis kick)
CH—Holder 24 interception return (Levis kick)
CH—Williams 6 run (kick failed)