Westlake High School's football team hadn't lost a Southern Maryland Athletic Conference game since October 1997, and had lost only three conference games since joining the SMAC in 1995. But when the Wolverines fell behind Calvert by 22 points in the second quarter Friday night, all that seemed like it was going to change.
It didn't. No. 10 Westlake scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to force overtime and junior placekicker Robbie Paskevich made a 27-yard field goal in the second overtime to give the Wolverines an astounding 25-22 victory.
"There's just something about Westlake football," Westlake Coach Dominic Zaccarelli said. "We find a way a to get it done. I don't know exactly where we get the magic from . . . but I hope it stays."
The victory extended Westlake's conference winning streak to 13 games. In fact, since joining the SMAC in 1995, Westlake (3-0, 2-0) has been beaten by a conference opponent just three times, falling to Lackey and La Plata in 1995 and suffering its last league loss to Leonardtown in 1997.
Calvert (2-1, 0-1) started the game right, as Sean Mizzer returned the opening kickoff 78 yards for a touchdown. In three games, Mizzer has three kick returns for scores--a 68-yard punt return in the season opener against Blake and a 47-yard punt return last week against Southern.
The Cavaliers stunned the Wolverines with two other first-half scores. Mizzer scored on a 15-yard run with 6 minutes 53 seconds remaining in the first quarter, and junior quarterback Orion Canine hit Treaven Wills with a 15-yard strike in the back of the end zone. That made it 22-0 with 5:43 left in the first half.
"We started getting angry with each other," Westlake junior lineman Randy Starks said. "Coach [Zaccarelli] started telling us we had to hold it together and keep our poise."
Westlake didn't help itself in the first half, committing 10 penalties for 78 yards. The Wolverines finished the game with 15 penalties for 113 yards.
Westlake, which had stalled on Calvert's 6-yard line earlier in the half, managed to score with 55 seconds left in the first half on a 1-yard run by junior Recardo Evans.
"We told each other at the half that all we had to do was stop giving them plays with our penalties," Evans said. "We were handing them five yards here and five yards there. We knew we were the better team, we just had to stick together to prove it."
The Wolverines, again held scoreless on a third-quarter possession that took them to the Calvert 3-yard line, pulled together in the fourth. Using speedsters Evans and Gonzie Gray to wear down the Cavaliers' defense, Westlake scored on a 5-yard run by Evans with less than six minutes to play.
The Wolverines got the ball back when Starks blocked a punt by Brian Bauer, and Gray punched the ball in from 8 yards out just three plays later. Gray went straight up the middle for the two-point conversion to send the game into overtime.
"We played hard but we made mistakes, and you can't afford to make mistakes against a good team like Westlake," Calvert Coach Jerry Franks said. "That's what let them get back into the game. But our players continued to fight when their backs were to the wall. They showed a lot of character, and left their hearts on the field."