Most high school football teams have a rivalry game, but very few have one quite like the Turkey Bowl. It truly is one of those games that can turn a bad season good and send seniors out feeling like champions.
Although Calvert Hall will not finish 2015 with a winning record, the Cardinals once again can celebrate a Turkey Bowl win over arch-rival Loyola, as the Cardinals claimed a 6-0 victory, Thursday morning at M&T Bank Stadium, in the 96th renewal of this annual Thanksgiving tradition.
Things could not have started any better for the Cardinals (5-6, 2-4 in the MIAA A Conference), after receiving the opening kickoff, TJ Massey took the second snap of the game, busted through a hole in the middle of the field and raced 75 yards for a touchdown before the fans had settled into their seats. Massey would go on to finish with 120 yards rushing on 11 carries.
Loyola (5-6, 1-5) attempted to respond immediately and drove from its own 35 to the Cardinal 19, but a 26-yard loss on an errant shotgun snap stifled the drive, which eventually ended when Djimon Harried intercepted a pass from Loyola quarterback Will Koras in the end zone for a touchback.
It was more of the same for the Dons throughout the first half, as costly penalties and four Calvert Hall sacks, including three by senior Jimmy Crowley, limited Loyola to just 97 yards of total offense in the opening half.
Harried and Crowley, along with Massey, were ultimately the stars of the game.
Crowley added a fourth sack on Loyola’s final possession of the game, forcing the Cardinals into a 4th-and-18 from the Calvert Hall 30, when the Dons were driving for what could have been a winning touchdown. On fourth down, Harried successful defended a throw into the end zone to cap an incredible performance for the senior defensive back. He had three earlier pass breakups in addition to blocking a punt and disrupting a failed field goal attempt.
After the big run by Massey on the first drive, Calvert Hall also struggled to move the ball. The Cardinals only had three first half first downs and just 130 yards of total offense, including the 75-yard burst by Massey.
Loyola started the second half with two consecutive first down passes from Koras, but Harried had a pair of pass breakups on the next series to help force a turnover on downs at the Cardinal 35.
Calvert Hall came out in the wildcat offense on its first second half possession and Watson broke off runs of 42 and 10-yards on the first two snaps. Again, two consecutive penalties thwarted the drive and the Cardinals were forced to settle for a 33-yard field goal attempt, which was pushed wide right by senior kicker Peter Ferrara.
From there, Loyola’s offense had the ball for 31 of the next 37 snaps, embarking on a 21-play, 65-yard march and a 10-play, 57-yard drive, and the Dons came away empty handed on both efforts.
The first drive consumed more than eight minutes as the Dons went from their own 25 to the Calvert Hall eight, before being pushed back to the nine. In one of the key moments of the contest, Loyola coach Brant Hall elected to go for a 26-yard field on 4th-and-2, instead of going for the first down. On the kick, Harried crashed hard from the left side and nearly blocked Gavin Rowley’s kick. The pressure clearly altered the effort and Rowley drove the ball wide right.
The Dons got the ball back, after a punt, on their own 13, with 7:53 left and immediately threatened when Biafra Okoronkwo raced 53 yards with a screen pass that took the ball to the Calvert Hall 34. The Dons advanced it to Cardinal 21, but lost a yard on second down before Crowley sacked Koras back to the 30. On fourth down, Koras lofted the ball into the end zone for Nate Leishear, who had a big day in the passing game for the Dons, but Harried was there to make sure the ball fell incomplete.
The Calvert Hall offense then ran out the remaining 3 minutes, 17 seconds to claim the victory.
The Cardinals still trail in the all-time series 49-39-8, but they have won five of their last six meetings with the Dons.
CALVERT HALL 6, NO. 15 LOYOLA 0
CH 6 0 0 0 — 6
LOY 0 0 0 0 — 0
CH – Massey 75 run (kick blocked)