What a difference a half made for Calvert Hall on Friday night against visiting Avalon.
The Cardinals struggled throughout a lackluster first half as the Black Knights took a 7-6 halftime lead. But No. 5 Calvert Hall turned everything around with a second half filled with big plays and rolled to a 31-13 victory.
For the Cardinals, they’ve now won four in a row heading into next weekend’s Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference playoffs. Calvert Hall (8-2) will find out its first-round opponents in the four-team tournament after this weekend’s games.
Calvert Hall coach Donald Davis was proud of the way his team bounced back for 25 straight second-half points.
“[Avalon] has got a very good football team, and they did a nice job,” Davis said. “But our kids are tough. They did a great job, and they worked hard.”
Everything began to change with the first play of the second half. Avalon (3-5) did not have a great kicking game and the second-half kickoff was short.
Adewale Obayanju raced up to catch the ball at the 23-yard line and ran it back 43 yards. That gave the Cardinals the ball at the 34, and quarterback Amir Jenkins threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Cole Herbert a few plays later.
The wide receiver outmaneuvered two Black Knight defenders, cutting between them in the end zone to make the catch. The Kieran O’Neill extra point gave Calvert Hall a 13-7 lead.
Halfway through the quarter, Jaden Beckles picked off Avalon quarterback Clay Vance and gave the Cardinals possession at the Black Knights’ 37. Then, on second and 11 from the 38, running back Sean Tucker broke free for 37 yards and scored three plays after that from one yard out.
Tucker got stopped several times in the first half but that big run and the touchdown pushed the game out of reach for the Black Knights. He also ran for a 15-yard touchdown in the first half which gave the Cardinals a 6-0 lead.
“We just came out today in the second half and played better,” Tucker said. “We had to...focus on our assignments and come together as a team.”
That task continued after his touchdown.
Ray Glass ran for the two-point conversion that made it 21-7. On the next possession, Ty Trinh grabbed another interception off of Vance. Calvert Hall now started at its now 31 and drove deep into Avalon territory before Peter Moore drilled a 40-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.
The Cardinals got their third interception of the half on the Black Knights’ next possession when Damar Seibels pulled in a deflected ball at midfield. A penalty on the return gave Calvert Hall the ball at the Avalon 18.
This time, the Cardinals needed just three plays to score, cashing in when Cobie (cq) Floyd broke free for a 28-yard touchdown run. The O’Neill kick gave Calvert Hall a 31-7 lead midway through the fourth quarter .
Overall, in that second half, the Cardinals finished with those three interceptions plus the big kickoff return to start things, and each thing led to points. That’s the reason Calvert Hall had a lot more fun in the final two quarters. The question now is who the Cardinals get next.
Calvert Hall 31, Avalon 13
A 0 7 0 6-- 13
C 6 0 15 10-- 31
C- Tucker 15 run (kick blocked)
A- Laboy 48 pass from Vance (Pitsenberger kick)
C- Herbert 30 pass from Jenkins (O'Neill kick)
C- Tucker 1 run (Glass run)
C- Moore 40 FG
C- Floyd 28 run (O'Neill kick)
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A- Pitsenberger 14 pass from Fitch (pass failed)