A short week couldn't keep senior Calvert Hall quarterback Thomas Stuart from a fast start.
"I can't say enough about all our seniors and all our staff and other guys who really helped us finish our season well," Stuart said. "We just said 'Seniors, this is your last game, so you gotta come out here and give it everything you got.' A lot of great offensive linemen who really stepped up and gave me some time."
The victory is Calvert Hall's third-straight in the historic matchup. Loyola leads the series 48-36-8. A nearly sold-out crowd of 10,080 showed up for the televised Thanksgiving morning game at Johnny Unitas Stadium.
Replay the Towson Patch live blog from the game.
Loyola received to start the game and threatened quickly, taking a drive to the 8-yard line before ultimately settling for a field goal.
"They were rested for three weeks. I knew they were going to try to throw some things at us that we couldn't prepare for," said Calvert Hall head coach Donald Davis. "I thought that (stop) was key to us settling the game down and it just becoming a football game."
Loyola stayed in the game, however. After a Cardinals touchdown widened Calvert Hall's lead to 14-3, quarterback Jake Clise (7 of 20 with two interceptions) ran 60 yards to open the next drive with a touchdown. Clise led rushing for the Dons, with 134 net yards on the day, followed by Ryan Black with 77 net rushing yards (160 all-purpose).
But Calvert Hall got the important stops, forcing the Dons to punt four times and notching two interceptions. The Dons also had two interceptions late in both halves, but were unable to cash in.
"We had an opportunity to get offense back on the field," Loyola head coach Brian Abbott said. "Offense was doing a good job in the first half. We couldn't get (Calvert Hall) off the field."
The third quarter ended with Calvert Hall up slightly at 21-17, but the 4th quarter began with a 34-yard Stuart pass to Trevor Williams for a touchdown.
Stuart heard calls coming from Loyola's coach and signaled to Williams. He took a step back and signaled to the receiver.
"I kind of looked over at Trevor and I kind of gave him the look like 'Go up top, I got him,'" he said.
That touchdown made a Loyola comeback all the less likely.
"They had a lot of momentum ... so we just wanted to take their heart from them and going deep helped out," Williams said.
Loyola still had a chance, trailing 28-17, until a Garrett Epple took pick off of Clise 42 yards to the 2-yard line, setting up a touchdown two plays later.
Davis said the win helps send his seniors off with something other than their tough championship loss.
"Thanksgiving is something totally unto itself, where two communities come together," Davis said. It's not about records, it's not about championships. It's about two communities coming together and really fellowshipping through football. So I was proud of the way our kids played today, irrespective of whether we won Friday or not."