The Archbishop Spalding football team's offense doesn't need a lot of time to score.
With senior dual-threat quarterback Evan Fochtman managing a fleet of speedy receivers and running backs, the No. 2 Cavaliers can roll up points in a hurry. No. 14 Loyola Blakefield learned that firsthand Friday afternoon.
The visiting Cavaliers turned a close game against the previously undefeated Dons into a blowout with 35 unanswered points in the final 12-plus minutes for a 63-24 victory in the Ravens RISE Showdown.
For Fochtman, who had a hand in six touchdowns, winning the first Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference game of the season was critical. The seven-team A Conference is so tough that Cavaliers coach Kyle Schmitt said every game is like a playoff game.
"It's huge," Fochtman said. "You need to start out with confidence, and I think that was a pretty convincing win, 63-24. I think that was a great way to start our season. We've got more to come."
Loyola cut the Cavaliers' lead to 28-24 after quarterback Will Koras hit Jason Smith for a 36-yard touchdown pass with 2:36 left in the first half. The Dons then forced Spalding (4-1) to punt after a three-and-out drive. The momentum didn't last long for Loyola, as Brevin Easton picked off a pass from Koras and returned it to Loyola's 16-yard line.
It took Fochtman one play to score — a pass to Larry Brown, whose three receptions were all touchdowns, for a total of 130 yards. Dons coach Brant Hall said Easton's pick changed the game.
"I thought we had a little momentum and then we just had a miscommunication between our quarterback and our receiver and we threw an interception," Hall said. "Gave them a short field, and they score and make the game 35-24. I think that deflated the guys a little bit."
Loyola went three-and-out on its next drive, and two plays later, Fochtman hit Brown again, this time for a 56-yard touchdown pass and 41-24 lead with 10:13 to go.
After that, Loyola (4-1) just couldn't keep up with the Cavaliers' big plays.
Fochtman added a 41-yard touchdown run, Julius Chestnut had a 63-yard scoring run, and Easton picked off another pass and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown.
"We just decided we needed to throw the football. They were packing the box," Schmitt said. "We had to get the ball out in space and go. We've got some skill that can turn it on, and we're really excited about some of those guys, and they stepped up today."
Schmitt acknowledged feeling nervous when the margin was just four points, but he compared Fochtman to another No. 11 Cavaliers quarterback — Zach Abey, the 2013 All-Metro Offensive Player of the Year — who could do a little bit of everything and spark the team.
Fochtman completed 12 of 18 passes for 290 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran the ball 15 times for 149 yards and two touchdowns.
"I told somebody recently that as long as we've got him, we've got a chance every week," Schmitt said. "He can beat you in a lot of ways. He can beat you throwing it. He can beat you running it. He's so explosive and he knows the offense so well."
In addition to Easton's two picks, the Cavaliers got a big game from linemen Chris Ford, who had four sacks, and Stephen Cobbs, who had two.
The Dons came into the game as the only unbeaten team in the MIAA and one of just 10 undefeated teams in the Baltimore area. For the first three quarters, they traded scores with the Cavaliers. Koras ran for two touchdowns and threw another to Smith. Tommy McLaughlin kicked a 24-yard field goal.
"We just got to learn that it takes four quarters," Hall said. "When you have the opportunity to make a play, you've got to make it and finish, and that's what they did better than we did today."