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Late turnover dooms Wolverines in loss to Cavaliers
Throughout Friday night’s Southern Mary- land Athletic Conference Chesapeake Division foot- ball game, host Westlake had success moving the chains deep into Calvert territory.
However, as has been its custom this season, the Calvert defense lived off of creating turnovers.
With Westlake backed up to its own 1-yard line and leading 14-13 in the fourth quarter, the Cav- aliers had perhaps their biggest one of the game.
On second down, West- lake junior running back Jordan Brumfield received the handoff, but as he was looking for running room to the outside, Calvert senior linebacker Levi Brickner stripped the football and senior Cody Mason recovered it in the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown with 6 minutes 58 seconds left in regulation.
Senior running back Shamar Gray scored on the two-point conversion, pushing Calvert to an eventual 21-14 victory on the Wolverines senior night.
In addition to the fourth-quarter fumble, Mason recovered a Wolverines fumble at the Calvert 1 in the first quarter. An interception early
in the second by Dajuan Willett stopped another scoring drive with the hosts at the Cavaliers’ 18.
With the win, Calvert (8-1, 4-1 SMAC Chesapeake) clinched a playoff spot in the Class 2A South Region for the second straight season and will travel to take on Lackey (8-1, 5-0) in a division showdown for its reg- ular season finale. Lackey, also clinched a postseason berth with its 42-6 win at La Plata in Week 9.
“It is important for us to win when your back is up against the wall like that,” Calvert head coach Rick Sneade said. “We got everything that you could possibly get from Westlake and
their seniors. They played in- spired, but our kids responded well and it was a great defensive struggle tonight.”
Midway in the fourth, West- lake drove 50 yards in 10 plays, but the drive was halted on a false start at the Calvert 2 on a fourth down and 1. The Wol- verines turned the ball over on downs on the next play with 1:55 remaining.
After forcing Calvert to punt on the ensuing drive, Westlake (5-4, 2-3) had one final chance to score with 0.7 seconds left in the clock, but senior quar- terback Chad Palmer’s deep throw toward the end zone was knocked down by several Cava- liers to end the game.
Earlier, after Calvert fumbled the ball away on the opening drive of the second half, Westlake took a 14-13 lead with
3:52 left in the third on a 16yard touchdown throw from Palmer to junior wide receiver Johnathan Barnes (6 catches, 71 yards), who made a leaping grab over the Cavaliers secondary on a third and long.
“We knew this was our chance to make playoffs right here and when Levi stripped that ball I was able to recover it for the score and that set the tone for the rest of quarter,” Mason said. “We couldn’t lose tonight. It was a big game.”
Following a Calvert fumble on the opening drive of the game, Westlake marched all the way down to the Cavaliers’ 1, but running back Brian Lee Jr. fum- bled the handoff and Mason took the ball away and returned it 92 yards.
“We left 14 points on the board. We were on the goal
line twice and couldn’t score,” Westlake head coach Tony Zac- carelli said. “Our kids played their hearts out. Our offense made big plays tonight to keep it and found some holes in the defense.”
Mason’s early fumble return set up the first points of the game as Calvert senior quarter- back Jack Lanham plunged in for a 7-yard touchdown run to give the Cavaliers the 7-0 lead after the extra point at the 6:07 mark of the first.
Later in the quarter, Lanham scored his second touchdown of the game, this time from 10 yards out to give Calvert the 13-0 lead after one.
Westlake responded with a 10-play, 42-yard drive that was capped by a Brumfield 2-yard touchdown run as time expired in the first half.
“We knew if we won then we were in [the playoffs],” Lanham said, “so we wanted to come out strong and set the tone early. Westlake’s defense bounced back and was able to adjust to our offense. It was close, but I’m glad we prevailed.”
The Westlake defense recovered two fumbles in the loss.
“We just came up a few plays short, we just had to execute more in the red zone,” said Palmer, who was 8 for 20 for 110 yards.
Westlake, which was eliminated from playoff contention in the 2A South, will travel to Patuxent in Week 10, with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday.
Patuxent, which also clinched a postseason berth in the 2A South, won 43-6 over Stone in Week 9.