Chopticon 22, Calvert 0

With three key skill players missing most of its first four games, Chopticon struggled and started the season 0-4. With all three of those players in the lineup Friday night, the Braves didn't struggle at all.

Receiver Matu Threatt, running back Darron Showalter and fullback Ryan Edwards played together for the first time since the season opener. The result was a balanced offense that did just enough to complement an opportunistic defense as the Braves cruised to a 22-0 homecoming victory over Calvert in a Southern Maryland Athletic Conference game at Braves Stadium.

Showalter, Threatt and Edwards combined for 137 yards of offense, and quarterback Justin McVerry scored on two keepers early in the third quarter, when the Braves (1-4, 1-4 SMAC) capitalized on consecutive Calvert (0-6, 0-6) turnovers to break open a tight game.

"It's really good to finally win a game," said McVerry, who combined for 66 yards of offense. "It's really important. It was our homecoming game."

McVerry was fortunate to have his three injured teammates back for the game. Showalter, who had not played in several weeks, paced the offense by rushing for 97 yards on 16 carries. He carried six times on the opening drive of the game, a 60-yard march that he capped with a 10-yard touchdown run to give Chopticon an early 6-0 lead.

The rest of the half featured punts, turnovers and a big missed opportunity. Calvert started its last drive of the half on its own 36 after an interception and had a first-and-goal chance at the Braves' seven-yard line. The Braves' defense held, though, and Calvert missed a 23-yard field goal with 25 seconds to play in the half.

The start of the second half was no better for the Cavaliers. Derek Richards could not handle the snap on a punt on their first possession, and the Braves tackled him for a loss at the Calvert eight. On the next play, McVerry took a quarterback sneak directly up the middle for a touchdown.

"They made some mistakes, and right away we hit them with a sneak," said Chopticon Coach Anthony Palko. "I don't think they were ready for that."

McVerry didn't rest long. On the next play from scrimmage, he picked off a pass by Calvert's Anthony Lorenzano (one of three quarterbacks to play in the game for the Cavaliers) and returned it to the Calvert 12. Two plays later, McVerry scored on a one-yard sneak, then hit Edwards on a fade in the back corner of the end zone for a two-point conversion that gave Chopticon a 22-0 edge less than three minutes into the second half. Calvert struggled to rally, failing to move inside the Chopticon 30 for the remainder of the game. Dalontae Hutchins squashed one drive when he stepped out of bounds on a fourth-and-four run just shy of a first down at the Braves' 34-yard line.

"It looked like they had a lot of guys going both ways," McVerry said, "and they got tired."

The Braves, on the other hand, had much more depth because of the return of three offensive starters. Palko said he can empathize with the thin Cavaliers. Getting back his injured players made a huge difference Friday night.

"We made some big plays in the second half," Palko said. "We're not the same team that played those first [four] games."