It was almost as if Archbishop Spalding didn’t really need to play all 48 minutes of their home opener to prove himself. They did it in about 90 seconds.
What was a mature, well-executed broadneck drive in the third quarter fell apart when junior Spalding Keyshawn Flowers slipped the ball out of the hands of a Bruin at the 4-yard line. The next play, Spalding wide receiver Max Moss ran across open ground, nearly jumping for joy with the 96-yard touchdown that cemented Spalding’s first win.
No other game better illustrated how Spalding dismantled a young Broadneck side on Friday night to claim their first home victory, 38-3. With the win, the Cavaliers earn a sweep in the home arrangement the teams began in 2021.
For a team that has graduating 17 players currently at the Division I level, Spalding hasn’t played like a young offense. Certainly, with Moss and main running back Hakim Simms catching and running, there was some experience. But second-year quarterback Malik Washington met each of them like the highly recruited prospect that he is.
“We changed our identity a bit,” Spalding coach Kyle Schmitt said. “In the second half the plan was to come out and hit them a bit – and obviously we broke that big play.”
Spalding had scores every which way, from a touchdown pass to open things from RJ Newton, to short runs in the fourth quarter.
And at the center of the operation was Washington, who went 16 for 22 for 126 yards, already looking like a veteran in the way he steered the ship.
“Malik is a special player,” Schmitt said. “He’s a great leader, and along with our core receivers, he has great playmakers.”
But Spalding didn’t pick top receivers on Friday. Very quickly, Broadneck quarterback Cam Catterton learned that he could trust his receivers.
Spalding’s march to his first touchdown consisted of some pretty throws. The Broadnecks were made of pure grain, to the point where whenever it looked like Catterton (21 for 34, 190 yards) was about to be swallowed whole by a voracious Spalding defense, there was always a wide receiver. confidence to meet him – Machi Evans or Eli Harris – passing 27 and 20 yards early.
But Spalding’s defense, young as it was, held on, holding the Bruins at the 5-yard line to the basket.
“I thought they were really opportunistic, that’s where we need to be,” Schmitt said of his defense. “We lost 70 points last year; 48 in our first game. We are going to have to win in a different way this year, we are going to have to score points and we have the people to do that.
For a moment, it looked like Spalding had the home court advantage as well. Simms powered the Bruins over and over to run into the Cavaliers’ second score for a 14-3 lead.
“Getting that pace, I think we were really good,” Washington said. “With the playmakers we have on the edge, it feels good to get that drive together, five yards, two yards. Everyone runs, everyone gets excited until we hit it in the end zone.
The plays that made Spalding so pretty in the first quarter looked more rustic in the second. The Cavaliers suffered their first scoreless drive — a wide left kick — and their second died on a punt.
Just as Spalding’s defense sniffed out Broadneck’s weak spots late in the first, the Cavaliers’ offense also discovered they couldn’t slip any further.
The Bruins were just as fresh. That was evident as a self-kicked ball into the end zone gave Spalding two more points and a 16-3 lead at the end of the half.
“They responded to it,” Schmitt said. “They were pressuring us; we were playing a little slow and I was happy to pass, which is not normal for me. But we challenged the O line and they played really well in the second half.
Broadneck showed what he could become in the third quarter. The attack ate nearly eight minutes as they moved calculatedly downward, spurred on by a long pass from Catterton to secure a first down.
The Bruins perched on the 4-yard line, eager for their first touchdown. Then the trial and error. From a scrum emerged a group of celebrating red figures, possession in hand.
“Seven [plus]-minute drive and zero points,” Harris said. “That was the game-changing moment.”
Spalding didn’t need to match Broadneck’s long drive. Washington rolled into the backfield and spotted Moss. And once Moss spotted an opening, there was nothing but the breeze to meet him.
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“I trust my QB. I’ve been playing with him for a while,” Moss said. “I knew as soon as I opened up he was going to put the ball where I [was]. After that, I was going to be an athlete.
Gavin Scruggs ran in two more races for the Cavaliers; a freshman, TJ Moultrie, dragged his first interception like a punctuation mark.
“This team is a family. We all stick together,” Moss said. “We really blended in.”