Prince Frederick, MD - A week after their very dramatic win at Patuxent to earn the region for the first time since 2002, the Cavaliers came into the state semis full of confidence as the Elkton Golden Elks strolled into town. Pregame, Calvert was on the field doing their usual stretch routine when Elkton marched onto the field chanting “ We Ready, We Ready, We Ready.” The chanting stopped and both teams settled into their pregame routines. By the time the 7 p.m. kickoff rolled around, the tension around the stadium was high.
The Cavs won the toss and received the ball to start the game. They took the ball and went backward on 3 plays, and punted the ball away. Elkton, of Cecil County, was led onto the field by junior running back Ray Estep, who through 12 games had amassed over 2,200 rushing yards on the season. The Golden Elks got a little drive started but stalled out in the red zone, turning it over on the Cavs' 18. Calvert took the ball, and launched into their usual power run offense, but was forced to punt from the Elks' 34 yard line. The defense did its job and forced an Elkton punt.
The Cavs took over on the short field and mustered what they could. They had a long run inside the Elks' 10, but it was called back due to a 'ghost' face mask penalty. The drive stalled and they were forced to settle for a field goal attempt.
The kick was pushed wide right, and the Elks were set up on the 20-yard line to start their drive. They fed Estep on the drive, giving him five carries before he cashed in on a 17-yard touchdown run right up against the middle. This put the Elks up 7-0 with 1 minute and 24 seconds left in the half. Calvert ran the clock out and went to the locker room trailing.
The Elks received the second half kickoff and drove a little but the Cavs' defense tightened up, and ultimately forced another Elk punt. Calvert drove, and had momentum but faced a 4th and 2 on the Elk 23. Quarterback Jack Lanham was held to 1 yard despite his attempt to reach the ball across the first down marker. Elkton took control of the ball and didn’t look back as Estep scored his second touchdown of the day on a 68-yard run down the far sideline. The point after touchdown (PAT) was good and the Elks were up 14-0 with 11:47 left in the game.
The Cavs took the kickoff following the score and converted a few big plays. None bigger than when running back Levi Brickner took a pitch from Lanham, and pulled up to throw. He threw a lob down the near sideline into the arms of a wide open Zachary Gadwill, whose defender bit hard on the run. Gadwill was run down from behind after 30 yards. The drive finally was capitalized on in the end zone, when Lanham had a 5 yard carry pushed across. Calvert looked to have the momentum as they immediately forced an Elkton punt, but could do nothing with it offensively, and they punted it away themselves.
Elkton took over at the Cavs' 44, and after running two plays for minimal yards with Calvert calling timeout after each play to stop the clock. But on third and 8, Estep took a pitch, cut back into the hole and was gone, blowing past the Calvert safeties. He found pay dirt for the third time as he scored from 42 yards out. The PAT was good, and the score was pushed to 21-6 with 2:41 left on the clock. Calvert did what they could in their drive following. But turned it over with 30 ticks left. Elkton ran out the clock and celebrated on the Cavs' field, as numerous Cavaliers collapsed in tears and sobs as the clock ran down to 0.
Following the game, Coach Rick Sneade made reference to his seniors, stating that this team did something no one thought they could three years ago. They made it back to the state semis for the third time in school history.Senior back Levi Brickner finished his high school career with 13 carries for 82 yards. Jack Lanham chipped in 38 yards and the lone touchdown for Calvert. For Elkton, Estep had 251 yards on 25 carries. Elkton advances to the state championship for the first time since 2000, where they beat Forestville in the state final. Calvert’s journey fell one win short.