Trey Crabill described the St. Paul's defense as "insane" before yesterday's Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association C Conference game against Cardinal Gibbons.
Then the sophomore linebacker went out and played like crazy.
Crabill had a sack and two other tackles for lost yardage, Thomas Zimmerman had three sacks and caused a fumble, and Tyler Smith and Jason Donati recovered fumbles for the host Crusaders, who scored 31 straight points - including a 17-point halftime lead - in a 31-8 rout.
The victory raised St. Paul's record to 4-3 overall, 3-1 in league play, and clinched at least a tie for its second straight conference crown.
Reserve quarterback Ray Lindsay of Gibbons (6-2, 1-2) scored his 3-yard run with 55 seconds left to play against St. Paul's reserves.
"Our first-string defense has had three straight shutouts," said Crabill, a transfer from Hereford who missed last season with a broken arm. "Two or three weeks ago, we struggled defending the run, but the last few weeks, we've adjusted."
Gibbons boasted two of the area's top rushers in Antwarn Jones and Cory Robinson, who had a combined 17 touchdowns and nearly 1,400 yards rushing entering the game. They combined for 64 rushing yards yesterday.
Zimmerman and Smith also teamed with Chris Ilardo, Drew Behrens and Matt Bailey as blockers for Drew Garcia (119 rushing yards), who ran for his fifth and sixth scores of the year.
Garcia's 5-yard run capped St. Paul's game-opening nine-play, 70-yard drive for a 7-0 lead with 8:44 left in the first quarter. A 27-yard run by Alex Taylor (77 rushing yards) made it 14-0 with 9:36 left in the first half.
And 19 seconds before halftime, Pike Howard, who converted all four extra-point kicks, made it 17-0 with a 21-yard field goal. Jason Caldwell had 81 yards and St. Paul's final touchdown, a 14-yard run with seven minutes to play.
St. Paul's gained 207 of its 361 total yards in the first half. Quarterback Nolan Matthews finished 10-for-14 for 70 yards.
"We just decided to come out and smash them in the mouth right away," said the 6-foot-4, 280-pound Ilardo.
Zimmerman said: "This was our game, and it all started with the line. It feels good winning the second championship in a row."