Heading on the road
Lackey edged by Calvert, set for rematch at Patuxent in playoffs
Ahead by three points but facing a fourth downand-inches on the Lackey 41-yard line and the clock running down towards the 2-minute mark, there was only one thing for the Calvert Cavaliers to do.
“In the huddle we all looked at each other and said ‘Let’s do this,’” Calvert quarterback Jack Lanham said. “Nobody expected us to beat Lackey. They have so many more athletes and playmakers. So we just looked at each other and said, ‘let’s do this.’ ‘Let’s do the unthinkable.’”
Lanham took the snap and drove into the line to gain a yard and the criti- cal first down, effectively sealing the Cavaliers’ 1714 Southern Maryland Athletic Conference Chesapeake Division win at Lackey on Friday night.
The win meant that Calvert, Lackey and Patuxent all share the division championship, while perhaps even more significantly the Cavaliers earned the right to host a playoff game for the first time since 2002.
Calvert, the second seed in the Class 2A South Region, will host Gwynn Park of Prince George’s County at 7 p.m. Friday. Lackey, which dropped to the region’s No. 4 seed with the loss, will travel to play at top-seeded Patuxent at 7 p.m. Friday.
Heading into the game, much of the attention was on Lackey running back Malik Burns and his quest to surpass the 2,000yard mark. He did that comfortably, finishing the game with 2,095 yards on the season, and did rush for a pair of touchdowns and a two-point conver- sion to account for all of Lackey’s points. But aside from the touchdown runs — which came on 49- and 28-yard runs — the Char- gers had virtually no of- fense.
Lackey (8-2, 5-1 SMAC Chesapeake) earned just three first downs in the game, all in the first half, and barely mustered 150 yards of total offense in the game.
“Our guys played great on defense and offensively up front,” Calvert head coach Rick Sneade said. “Our offensive line came
up and played hard. The game is won and lost in the trenches. We knew we had a stout task ahead of us trying to stop their running game. But give our defense credit, they held them to two big plays. That was the differ- ence in the game.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Lackey took the lead on Burns’ first touchdown run, that the 49-yard scamper, to put the Char- gers in front 6-0. Calvert (9-1, 5-1) answered im- mediately with a 60-yard drive that concluded with Lanham’s 7-yard touchdown run and also featured a fourth-down con- version run by Shamar Gray to set up Lanham’s score. Jacob Didra’s extra point put the Cavaliers in front 7-6, which stood as the halftime score.
Calvert received the opening kick of the sec- ond half, but fumbled the ball away on the half’s first play from scrimmage. Two plays later, Burns
burst through the line and took off for a 28-yard touchdown. He followed with a two-point conver- sion run, but that, with just 59 seconds of the second half expired, was essential- ly the extent of the Char- gers’ second-half offense.
Again, Calvert answered Lackey’s score immedi- ately. After recovering the Chargers’ onside kick on the ensuing kickoff, the Cavaliers marched 50 yards in five plays with Levi Brickner scoring on a 20-yard run with the successful point-after knotting the score at 14.
Late in the third quarter, Calvert stopped Burns short on a fourth-and-2 play near midfield to set up what turned out to be the game-winning drive. Taking possession at their own 48, the Cavaliers drove down inside the Lackey 5 — taking big chunks on a 14-yard pass from Lanham to Brickner and a 17-yard run by Jer- emiah Long — to set up
Didra’s 20-yard field goal to give the visitors the 1714 lead with 7 minutes 49 seconds left to play.
Lackey never threat- ened. The Chargers had two more possessions, but the first ended with a Brickner interception the second was a quick threeand-out that ended with a Chargers punt from their own 12. Still with their timeouts and 2:49 on the clock, the Chargers had hope, but the Cavaliers successfully moved the chains and never gave Lackey another shot with the ball.
“They beat us up front on both sides of the ball, which is something we’ve been doing all year,” Lack- ey head coach John Lush said. “They played really well.”
For Lackey, the loss meant instead of entering the postseason at home as the top seed in the 2A South, the Chargers have to head back to Patuxent (9-1 overall). Lackey defeated
the Panthers 3-0 on a soggy Sept. 30 night.
“We have to play better up front,” Lush said. “Special teams I didn’t think we played too well tonight, either. We’d been playing well in that area, too. We have to work on our passing game a little bit. Tonight we needed that and it was non-existent.”
While Burns led all rushers with 145 yards on Friday night, Calvert’s rushing attack rolled up in excess of 170 yards. Gray led the bunch with 71 yards, while Brick- ner added 50. The win also marked the second consecutive week the Cavaliers won on their opponent’s senior night, as the team had also won at Westlake on its senior night the previous week.
“It was a big game,” Gray said. “It was their senior night. We just played Westlake on their senior night. We spoiled theirs. We spoiled Lackey’s now, but we just wanted another game back at home.”
Last year Calvert reached the playoffs for the first time since 2002. The Cavaliers’ postseason stay was short, as they lost 9-7 at Patuxent in its playoff opener. Patuxent went on to win the 2A state championship.
In the playoffs for a second consecutive year, Calvert will enter the postseason with last year’s experience to draw from and will have momentum coming from earning one of a couple of signature wins this season in Week 10.
“We knew the stakes of the game coming into it,” Lanham said. “We knew if we won, we’d have home field in the playoffs. We just wanted to come out physical. They have a lot of big people on their team, so we knew just playing our techniques, playing aggressive and being strong up front were going to be key for us.”
Lackey’s Malik Burns carries the ball during the Chargers’ game with the visiting Calvert Cavaliers on Friday night. Burns surpassed the 2,000-yard mark for the season, though the Chargers ended up losing to Calvert 17-14.