Spalding rallies from 23 point deficit, stuns No. 3 Mount St. Joseph; Umbarger accounts for 4 TDs
by Derek Toney
As music blasted from Archbishop Spalding’s football team locker room next door and students milled the hallway outside following Friday’s come-from-behind victory over Mount St. Joseph, Cavaliers football coach Kyle Schmitt found a somewhat solitary spot on a stool in the school’s athletic training room.
“I’m going to need a drink,” laughed Schmitt.
Or maybe two. The fifth-ranked Cavaliers’ 28-25 victory in front of nearly 1,000 damp spectators at Whittles Field was like a mash-up of the Mission Impossible and Fast and Furious movie series.
Senior quarterback Jayden Umbarger accounted for four second half touchdowns, including the game-winner with 3 minutes left in regulation for Spalding (6-2 overall). Senior wide receiver Chris Clark caught 12 passes for 109 yards.
Trailing 23-0 at halftime, the Cavaliers scored 28 straight points to take the lead. The Gaels missed a game-tying field goal on the final play of regulation, setting off a wild – and wet – celebration on Senior Night.
“We came together at halftime and said ‘hey, we’re winning this game,” said Umbarger. “We came out and the defense made a stop and momentum took us the whole way. We’re the toughest team in Maryland.”
There was no panic by Spalding, which overcame a 21-point fourth quarter deficit against New York’s St. Anthony’s earlier in the season. The Cavaliers played perennial Washington Catholic Athletic Conference power Good Counsel to a tie in a game that was cancelled because of lightning.
“We had one running clock last week but everything else has been fourth quarter games which really challenged us situationally,” said Schmitt. “I think that was the difference tonight.”
Spalding’s defense shut down Mount St. Joseph in the second half as Logic Hudgens, Zaire Allen and Kellan Wyatt each had interceptions and senior Justin Lopez had a sack. The Cavaliers held the Gaels to three field goals in the first half, keeping the game relatively manageable.
“Our red zone defense was unbelievable. Our DBs (defensive backs) were ups and downs at times, but they brought out at the end,” said Spalding senior linebacker Adam Barclay. “Our strategy was pressure the ball.”
After stopping the Gaels on their first drive of the second half, Spalding quickly got on the scoreboard for the first time as Umbarger followed Jayon Venerable’s 50-yard run with a 28-yard jaunt into the end zone. Umbarger found Zakee Wheatley towards the back of the end zone on 4th-and-goal for a 9-yard score, bringing the Cavaliers within 23-14 with 4:25 left in the third quarter.
Momentum was completely in Spalding’s favor as Hudgens came down with Gaels’ quarterback Billy Atkins’ deep pass attempt at Spalding’s 15. Umbarger capped a 12-play, 85-yard drive with a 9-yard run and got the two-point conversion, making it 23-22 with 10:38 left in regulation.
Umbarger got a shovel pass from Austin Tutas and slipped into the end zone, capping Spalding’s third straight scoring drive (9 plays, 68 yards). Umbarger rushed for 78 yards and completed 7 of 13 passes for 88 yards in the second half.
“I told the kids at half we got to get down to two possessions by the fourth and one possession at the 8-minute mark,” said Schmitt. “You got to break it down because you can’t get it all back in one possession.”
The Gaels (8-2), who had 66 yards in their first four second half drives, got to Spalding’s 23 after 49-yard pass from Atkins to Dont’e Thornton with two minutes left in regulation. Wyatt, a freshman, nabbed Spalding’s third second half interception of Atkins at the 5 with 1:57 remaining.
Mount St. Joseph got the ball back after Spalding took a safety with 1:19 left. With no timeouts, the Gaels went from its 48 to Spalding’s 19 with 11 seconds left.
Atkins, who converted three first half field goals, lined up for a game-tying 35-yarder. The kick had the distance, but sailed left, completing an unlikely collapse after a dominant first half.
The Gaels silenced Spalding’s faithful with a Marlowe Wax 1-yard touchdown run, an Atkins 20-yard field goal and 19-yard scoring toss to Andre Crawley for a 17-0 advantage early in the second quarter. The Irvington school got turnovers at the Cavaliers’ 8 (Stephen Schulze interception) and 35 (Gavin Pringle fumble recovery) late in the quarter, resulting in Atkins 3-pointers.
They proved critical as Spalding started dropping touchdowns in the second half.
“We just came out flat in the second half. We thought we had them and didn’t finish the game,” said Mount St. Joseph coach Rich Holzer, whose team dropped its first game to an area squad (other loss against Good Counsel). “Credit to Spalding for making adjustments and taking it right to us. They were bringing a lot of pressure and didn’t respond well.”
The Gaels, who had 247 yards in the first half, saw their production cut in half in the second half (123). Atkins finished 22-of-42 for 306 yards with a touchdown and four interceptions.
Umbarger, who will attend the Naval Academy next fall, finished with 297 total yards (195 pass and 102 rush).
“Jayden Umbarger was incredible,” said Schmitt. “We had some ups and downs and didn’t start earlier in the year. It was all about Spalding football and he was incredibly selfless.”
It was a memorable end Friday for Umbarger and his 20 senior teammates.
“It’s kind of bittersweet,” said Umbarger, who will play for the Naval Academy next season.”I’m just so happy right now, I just want to celebrate with my teammates.”
No. 5 Archbishop Spalding 28, No. 3 Mount St. Joseph 25
Mount St. Joseph 7 16 0 2 – 25
Spalding 0 0 14 14 – 28
Mount St. Joseph – Marlowe Wax 1 run (Billy Atkins kick)
Mount St. Joseph – Atkins 20 field goal
Mount St. Joseph – Andre Crawley 19 pass from Atkins (Atkins kick)
Mount St. Joseph – Atkins 25 field goal
Mount St. Joseph – Atkins 25 field goal
Spalding – Jayden Umbarger 28 run (Jayon Venerable run)
Spalding – Zakee Wheatley 9 pass from Umbarger (pass failed)
Spalding – Umbarger 9 run (Umbarger run)
Spalding – Umbarger 3 pass from Austin Tutas (pass failed)
Mount St. Joseph – Safety (Umbarger tackled out of end zone)