Head­ing on the road

Lackey edged by Calvert, set for re­match at Patux­ent in play­offs

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By ANDY STATES as­tates@somd­news.com

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.”

PHOTO BY DEB­BIE MCINTOSH

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.

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