After playing--and losing to--undefeated teams for three consecutive weeks, La Plata High School's football team faced another steep challenge Friday night at Calvert. The Cavaliers had lost just once (to conference power Westlake), and had a homecoming crowd of 2,300 on their side.
But La Plata's Raheem Archer and Melvin Myles each returned interceptions for touchdowns and the Warriors defeated the Cavaliers, 35-19.
"This is the biggest win of the year," La Plata Coach Joe Williams said. "We had three undefeated teams in three weeks and lost all three. We had to come back tonight against Calvert."
Calvert, which came into the contest averaging 39 points a game, jumped ahead early as junior quarterback Orion Canine threw an eight-yard touchdown pass to Omar Cooper. La Plata tied the game on a one-yard run by junior quarterback Tyler McConnell and took a 14-7 lead on Archer's 65-yard interception return.
"That was a huge play," said Williams, whose team has four interception returns for scores in the last two weeks. The Warriors didn't return a single interception for a touchdown last season.
Following a three-yard touchdown run by Titus Green, which gave the Warriors a 21-7 lead with 3 minutes 3 seconds left in the first half, Calvert went 70 yards in six plays and cut the lead to 21-13 on a 10-yard touchdown reception by Omar Cooper with 50.2 seconds left in the half.
Calvert cut the lead to 21-19 on its first possession of the second half. Junior running back Corey Smith, who sat out the first two games of the season after transferring from Northern, scored on an 11-yard pass from Canine. Smith has scored four touchdowns in the last two games.
Junior running back Sean Mizzer did much of the damage on the drive, carrying the ball four times for 59 yards. Mizzer, who bruised his ribs two weeks ago and played sparingly last week against Great Mills, carried the ball 21 times for 193 yards, 103 in the second half.
La Plata gained only one yard on the next three plays and was forced to punt near midfield, but Calvert was penalized 15 yards on the play, giving La Plata first and 10 from the Calvert 39-yard line. Seven plays later, McConnell scored from one yard out, giving the Warriors a 29-19 lead.
On the next drive, Mizzer carried the ball two times for 35 yards and caught an apparent nine-yard touchdown pass from Canine on fourth down. But it was brought back on an offensive pass interference penalty.
Calvert committed two more costly turnovers late in the game. On third and goal from the La Plata 4-yard line, Mizzer threw a halfback option pass to the corner of the end zone. But the ball was intercepted by La Plata. On Calvert's next possession, Myles sealed the victory with a 60-yard interception return for a touchdown.
"Our defense played very well tonight, especially near the goal line," Williams said. "They had a few big plays, but they couldn't get the ball in the end zone. That was the difference."