If there was a year for the Loyola Blakefield football team to break Calvert Hall’s recent streak of dominance on Thanksgiving Day, this was it. The Dons came to Towson University’s sold-out Johnny Unitas Stadium on Thursday hoping to put the program’s resurgence on center stage.
Instead, it was Cardinals receiver Cole Herbert running back Sean Tucker who stole the show.
Herbert caught a touchdown pass, ran for two more scores and recovered a key third-quarter fumble, while Tucker ran for 187 yards and a touchdown as No. 11 Calvert Hall amassed 336 yards on the ground in a 33-10 win in the 100th Turkey Bowl before an announced crowd of 11,200.
"We wait for this game every year, so we were going to come out and get this win," Tucker said. "They were giving good blocks to us, and we just followed behind them."
"We got back to our roots, which is really what it's all about," Calvert Hall coach Donald Davis said.
The win was the sixth straight in the series for the Cardinals (9-3), who have won 10 of the past 11 against their archrivals. Loyola (8-2) still leads the all-time series, 49-43-8.
All told, Calvert Hall outgained Loyola 463-279, using its sizable advantage on the offensive and defensive lines to maul their way to yardage. Herbert, a senior who will play lacrosse next season at North Carolina, scored three touchdowns in the game for the second straight year, and Tucker, a senior set to play at Syracuse, also gained close to 200 yards a year ago.
Though many thought this would be Loyola's year to shine in the recently one-sided series, it wasn't to be. Despite entering the day with eight wins, just two years after finishing 2-8 and subsequently leaving the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association, the Dons simply couldn't keep pace with Calvert Hall's playmaking ability.
"I thought we were a little bit better this year than we've been in years past. I was just disappointed that when there were plays to be made on the ball, [Calvert Hall] just made them," Loyola coach Anthony Zehyoue said. "I was really proud of my guys, but at the end of the day, they just made more plays."
Showing confidence in his defense, Zehyoue deferred the opening kickoff, giving Calvert Hall's offense the first shot. And the Dons held tough, forcing a fourth-down incompletion on Amir Jenkins' pass intended for Herbert.
With Loyola largely unable to move the ball early, the Cardinals took possession on the Dons’ side of the field three straight times. It was only a matter of time before they struck.
After losing a fumble at Loyola's 14, Calvert Hall held Loyola to a three-and-out, getting the ball back at the Dons' 33 after Conor Gill's 18-yard punt into a stiff wind. Two plays later, Jenkins, under pressure, heaved the ball downfield, where Herbert, well-covered in the back of the endzone, outjumped two defenders to catch a 32-yard touchdown pass with 4:07 left in the first quarter.
"Most of the time we take a shot," Herbert said. "I usually get doubled, so our goal is to just throw it up and see if I can make a play."
Herbert, who entered the game with just five touchdowns all season, also took center stage later in the quarter, as the Cardinals extended their lead to 14-0.
After lining up in a Wildcat formation at the 38, Calvert Hall snapped the ball directly to Herbert, who broke left, cut inside, scooted through a hole and took off, faking off a would-be tackler downfield before sprinting into the endzone. It marked his first carry of the season.
“It’s something that we’ve been working on, that we’ve been holding for right now,” Davis said. “We knew they couldn’t prepare for [it] because they hadn’t seen it on film. Cole’s one of the most talented high school athletes in the state of Maryland, so to put the ball in his hands is a no-brainer.”
Over the past five Turkey Bowls, Calvert Hall has outscored Loyola 53-0 in the first quarter.
Still, Loyola had a chance to make a game of it, particularly in the second quarter with the wind at its back.
Led by Moore, who at one point in the half completed seven straight passes, the Dons drove 77 yards to move deep into Cardinals territory. But on a third down at the 12, Moore tried to scramble and took a big hit, forcing him out of the game, and the Dons missed the ensuing 27-yard field-goal attempt.
Ahead 14-3 midway through the third, the Cardinals put the game seemingly out of reach, using Tucker’s drive-opening 47-yard run to set up Herbert’s 1-yard score, also out of the Wildcat. Tucker’s 1-yard score on Calvert Hall’s next drive extended it to 27-3.
Loyola scored its lone touchdown near the end of the third quarter, when Jenkins rolled right from Calvert Hall’s 35 and fired into the endzone, where receiver Ben Schleiff, in one-on-one coverage, tipped the ball, then dove forward to catch it in the endzone
Calvert Hall 14 0 13 6 — 33
Loyola 0 0 10 0 — 10
CH — Herbert 32 pass from Jenkins (O’Neill kick)
CH — Herbert 38 run (O’Neill kick)
L — Gill 29 FG
CH — Herbert 3 run (kick failed)
CH — Tucker 1 run (O’Neill kick)
L — Schleiff 35 pass from Moore (Gill kick)
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CH — Floyd 12 run (kick failed)