CUMBERLAND — When the Frederick Christian Eagles flew into Cumberland, it wasn’t the weather that turned them south, but instead it was a spirited bunch of Spartans who scored early and often to claim a 60-16 victory that finished off Bishop Walsh’s Homecoming weekend.
The Spartans spotted themselves a 15-0 lead 40 seconds into the first quarter and held the Eagles to 19 yards in the first half, bouncing back from their first loss of the season, a 42-0 setback last weekend to St. Mary’s Ryken.
On its first play from scrimmage, Bishop Walsh went to Billy Conroy, who rolled his way off the edge and went 55 yards for the first six points with a total of 14 seconds running off the clock.
Liam Rhodes then made two straight receptions, the first on defense to give the ball back to the Spartans at the Frederick Christian 20-yard line. The second came a play later in the end zone when Terrell McGraw found the receiver wide open with 11:20 remaining in the first half.
It was the first of three touchdown receptions for Rhodes, who caught all four of Bishop Walsh’s completions for 79 yards, and the first of four total touchdowns from McGraw. The area’s leader in all-purpose yardage (178.7 per game), McGraw completed three passes for 45 yards, added 35 on the ground and an 81-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
After scoring twice in the first 40 seconds, the Spartans had to wait three minutes to score again. Quincy Redmon flashed his football intelligence when he caught the Eagles napping after a Frederick Christian shanked a punt. A Frederick player touched the ball after a punt that lost three yards, but never downed it. With no whistle blown and the Eagles standing around, Redmon swooped in, scooped up the ball and was in the end zone with a 35-yard touchdown before the opposition knew what had happened.
Bishop Walsh would add two more touchdowns over the final eight minutes of the quarter to lead 35-0 after 12 minutes. McGraw ran in an 11-yard score before throwing a 15-yard pass to Rhodes.
While the Spartans offense was clicking, their defense was playing just as tough by allowing only four yards in the first quarter.
The quick start answered any concerns coach Geno Taylor had about his team coming in.
“These kids really wanted that undefeated season, and the loss last weekend took something out of them,” he said. “They came out really sluggish on Monday and I wound up sending them home, telling them they need to come back on Tuesday ready to go. For the rest of the week it was business as usual.”
Already turning to backups by the second quarter, Darius Berry scored the next touchdown for the Spartans on a one-yard run with 6:12 to play before halftime.
The Eagles got a big return from Brooks Barry on the ensuing kickoff and were able to get on the scoreboard two plays later after two runs from Jake Butler finished off the 17-yard drive.
McGraw took the following kickoff 81 yards to make it 47-8 Spartans at the half.
The Spartans stuck with the substitutes during the second half and they kept the same intensity as the starters.
“I’m really proud of the way we stayed focused all day,” said Taylor. “The starters stayed involved on the sidelines when we took them out, and the players that got in the game kept the same rhythm as the starters.”
Though the 35-point rule went into effect during the second quarter, it ran the entire second half and limited Bishop Walsh’s scoring chances.
Brandon Reed threw a pretty ball 34 yards to Rhodes for his third touchdown catch in the third quarter, and sophomore Raquan Weedon scored from a yard out on the final offensive play.
The Spartans (6-1) have a bye next week before returning on Oct. 27 to host John Paul The Great.
Chris Appel is a sportswriter for the Cumberland Time-News. Contact him at email@example.com.