Archbishop Spalding's emotional football season will continue, thanks to its defensive stand against Loyola in overtime and a 1-yard scoring sneak by quarterback Brian Louck.
Louck's touchdown gave the No. 9 Cavaliers a 20-14 victory over the visiting Dons Friday night and clinched a berth for them and coach Mike Whittles, who is battling pancreatic cancer, in the first Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference playoffs.
"We did it for this big guy right here," Louck said reaching for Whittles. "It's fantastic. I don't even know what else to say. It's unreal."
The Cavaliers (7-3 overall, 3-3 conference) needed a little help from Calvert Hall to get into the playoffs. Had Mount St. Joseph beaten the Cardinals on Friday, the Gaels would have advanced, but the Cardinals knocked them out, 27-6, opening the door for the winner of the Spalding-Loyola game to take the final spot.
Spalding will meet No1. Gilman in next week's semifinals, while No. 2 Calvert Hall plays No. 8 McDonogh. Loyola still has its Turkey Bowl game against Calvert Hall on Thanksgiving Day.
Friday night, the Dons — who tied the game at 14 on Ryan Black's 5-yard touchdown run with less than two minutes to go — had a chance to win it when Jamie Dubyoski attempted a 45-yard field goal as time expired in regulation. His kick was long enough but just wide.
"I thought it was in," Louck said. "When I heard it was no good, I went to my offensive linemen and I said, 'We're going to win this game,' because I have faith in every single one of them."
The Cavaliers' defense made its stand first in overtime, stopping the Dons on three rushes and breaking up a pass from quarterback Jake Clise after a fake field goal on fourth-and-four.
Spalding's line then powered the way to the end zone as Jeremiah Johnson and D.J. Smith gained the first nine yards before Louck snuck in on third down.
The Cavaliers opened the second half with a 12-play, 80-yard drive culminating in Smith's 2-yard touchdown run to take a 14-7 lead with 5:53 to go in the third quarter.
In the first half, the Cavaliers went for it on all three fourth downs. They could not convert the first two, but Smith, who carried 26 times for 122 yards, converted the third on a two-yard run to put Spalding on the board first.
On their next fourth down — fourth-and-22 from their own 30-yard line — the Cavaliers punted. The Dons then turned the ball over, but the Cavaliers fumbled it back a minute and a half later. Three plays later, Black broke about five tackles and ran 31 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 7 with 28.4 seconds left in the half.
No. 9 Spalding 20, Loyola 14 (OT)
L 0 7 0 0 7 0 -- 14
S 0 7 7 0 0 6 -- 20
S—Smith 2 run (Weiman kick)
L—Black 31 run (Dubyoski kick)
S—Smith 2 run (Weiman kick)
L—Black 5 run (Dubyoski kick)