Calvert Hall falls short against 4A state champs; Tucker rushes for 132 yards, TD

Calvert Hall running back Sean Tucker (center) follows his blocks as he would break free for an 89-yard touchdown run Friday evening against Henry A. Wise. Tucker finished with 132 yards for the Cardinals, who fell 15-13 to the two-time Class 4A public state champ Pumas in Upper Marlboro.

After winning the first two games without breaking a sweat, the so-called degree of difficulty got raised several notches for Calvert Hall College football Friday against Henry A. Wise. The Cardinals from the MIAA A Conference, the Baltimore region’s toughest conference, represented against arguably the state’s premier public program.

The defense was impenetrable while the offense produced explosive scores. But the No. 8 Cardinals were unable to get that defining play as Wise escaped with a 15-13 decision in southern Prince George’s County.

“They fought like crazy, our defense was tremendous,” said Calvert Hall coach Donald Davis. “I thought we controlled the line of scrimmage. I can’t ask them to give me more than they gave us.”

“We planned on coming out here to make a statement. We didn’t get the result that we wanted, but I feel like that statement was made,” said Cardinals senior wide receiver Chris Cooper. “Not taking anything from Wise, but we made some mistakes.”

The Towson squad (2-1 overall) allowed a game-opening kickoff return score and missed a potential game-tying two-point conversion in the second half. The Hall was turned away on downs at midfield before Dennis Stokes intercepted Cardinals quarterback Mike Campbell (127 yards) with 5.5 seconds left in regulation, securing Wise’s 30th consecutive victory.

Pumas coach DaLawn Parrish, a former All-Met defensive back at Howard, knew Calvert Hall would provide his squad its toughest challenge in several seasons.

“We knew they’re a balanced team. I felt they had good skill players not great,” said Parrish, whose team is ranked 3rd in the latest state media poll. “We thought they had one of the better fronts that we would play against. Their defensive ends got off the ball all night.”

Anthony Anderson had three sacks and a fumble recovery, and Shane McCarthy (fumble recovery) and Jordan McLaughlin (sack) had defensive plays for the Cardinals, who allowed only a defensive score and kept the Upper Marlboro school (2-0) off the scoreboard the final 26 minutes of regulation. The 15 points Friday were the lowest in a game for Wise (scored 639 points last season) since its last loss at the end of the 2015 season.

“We knew how big they are and their skill position players,” said Anderson, a junior defensive end. “We just shut them down completely.”

The Cardinals trailed before their defense took the field as John Oliver returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for the Pumas. Calvert Hall’s first offensive play was fumble that was recovered by Wise.

“It’s not their fault, it’s mine, I’m the head football coach,” said Davis. “If the guys don’t start the game the way they should, it’s not the responsibility of the kids, it’s the coach’s job to have his team ready and I did not do that.”

On the opening play of the second quarter, Cooper hauled in Campbell’s pass near the sidelines and streaked to the end zone for a 81-yard score, bringing The Hall within 8-7. After stopping the Pumas in the red zone, Calvert Hall was quickly slashed on its next defensive series.

After a two-yard run by Oliver, Quinton Williams connected with Jalil Farooq for a 45-yard pass play. Williams threw a quick to pass in the flat to AJ Lytton, and the Florida State University commit (state’s No. 1 recruit by slipped down the sidelines and into the end zone for a nine-yard score with 1:59 left in the first half.

In the third quarter, Wise advanced the ball to Calvert Hall’s 19, but the Cardinals’ defense stayed vigilant and turned the hosts away on downs. Two plays later, sophomore running back Sean Tucker sprinted 89 yards for a touchdown, making it 15-13 with 1:18 left in the fourth.

The Cardinals got flagged for sideline interference during the run, pushing the conversion attempt from the 3-yard line to the 8. The conversion pass fell incomplete.

Calvert Hall got turned away on downs on near midfield on their next drive, and Wise quickly returned to the red zone. The Cardinals again bended but did not break as Anderson fell on David Medley’s fumble with 5:51 left in regulation.

Starting at its 4, Calvert Hall was able to reach midfield, thanks to Campbell’s 32-yard throw down the middle to Xavier Gravette on third down. The Cardinals went no further as Campbell was pulled down by Jabhrai Gray on fourth down and 2:15 left in regulation.

The Cardinals, ranked 11th in the state media poll, got the ball back at their 17 with only 25.6 seconds remaining. Calvert Hall reached its 24 before Stokes’ interception ended its bid for a second straight 3-0 start.

Wise’s Deandre Clifton (8) sacks Calvert Hall quarterback Mike Campbell. The Pumas sacked Campbell four times, helping them win their 30th consecutive decision.

“They gave a tremendous effort,” said Davis. “I’m proud of the way we played, I got to do a better job of putting them in position to win.”

Henry A. Wise 15, No. 8 Calvert Hall College 8

Calvert Hall 0 7 6 0 – 13

Wise 8 7 0 0 – 15

First quarter

Wise – Tucker 90 kickoff return (conversion good)

Second quarter

Calvert Hall – Cooper 81 pass from M. Campbell (Reynolds kick)

Wise – Lytton 9 pass from Williams (Martinez kick)

Third quarter

Calvert Hall – Tucker 89 run (pass failed)