Loyola playoff hopes dashed in one-point loss

Following a 26-yard Warriors field goal which put the visitors ahead 17-16 with 2:13 left in the fourth quarter, Loyola had the ball at its 20-yard line in a must-win Mission League game against Alemany at Smith Field last Friday. After the Cubs got past midfield with 23 seconds left, a fourth down pass was intercepted by the Warriors to seal the victory for Alemany, and thus eliminating Loyola from CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoff consideration, absent some highly unlikely scenarios playing out (e.g., Crespi upsetting Chaminade to force a potential coin toss for third place in the Mission League). The disheartening home loss was the third of the season decided by three points or less. In the end, it was two big Alemany passing plays for touchdowns, one of 58 yards late in the first quarter and a 22-yard strike late in the third quarter, that were the difference makers. The Cub ‘Wolfpack’ defense played solidly most of the night holding the visitors’ point total to half of their season average, but Loyola’s offense was not able to produce enough to capture a win that would have kept the Cubs in the playoff hunt. A missed extra point, several critical penalties and a dropped fourth down pass which would have given the Big Blue a first down in Warrior territory with less than six minutes remaining in the contest were costly.

 Loyola scored first on a one-yard sneak by senior quarterback SEAN O’MALLEY. An 11-yard O’Malley TD pass to senior tight end CONNOR BEADLES just before halftime gave the Cubs a 13-7 lead. Senior GEORGE CARATAN’s 49-yard field goal at the 6:00 mark of the third quarter upped Loyola’s lead to 16-7. 

 It is likely Alemany will miss the playoffs even if the Warriors upset Mission League-leader Serra in its last regular season game tonight because the Warriors’ final record would be 4-6 (one loss was by forfeit). Among the criteria for at-large playoff consideration is having at least a .500 record. If Serra defeats Alemany tonight and Chaminade beats Crespi, the Mission League representatives in the playoffs will be, in order, Serra, Bishop Amat and Chaminade.

 Against Notre Dame on Friday the Cubs will be playing solely for pride in their final contest of a 2016 campaign in which they have demonstrated impressive grit and resolve in adjusting to adversity which struck before the season even began.

 Keeping tabs on Cub grads update

Twins DANIEL and DAVID TOLBERT ’16 are having big seasons in the secondary for the University of San Diego . . . Former Cub All-American DAVID LONG is seeing the field for College Football Playoff contender Michigan as a true freshman . . . Former All-CIF offensive lineman CHRIS BROWN ’14 is rotating at offensive guard for surging USC while DE CHRISTIAN RECTOR ’15 saw considerable playing time for the Trojans in their win over Cal on October 27.

 Loyola sophs improve to 7-2 with another defensive gem

In Mission Hills last Thursday, Loyola’s sophomore team improved to 7-2 and 4-1 in the Mission league with another dominating defensive performance against Alemany. Led by the ferocious play of inside linebacker MARCUS AGUILLAR, the Cubs allowed the Warriors to cross the 50 yard just one time in their 9-7 victory. Alemany’s lone score came on a 25-yard fumble return. All of the Cub scoring came on field goals by NICHOLAS BARR-MIRA, who converted on kicks of 38 yards, 42 yards and the 43-yard game-winner late in the contest. Head coach RIC FLORES once again lauded the hard-nosed running of tailback HUNTER BALLARD.

 Cub freshman stumble in another come-from-ahead loss

Loyola’s freshman squad led Alemany for most of the game last Thursday, but in a maddening repeat of a couple of earlier losses, the Cubs allowed the visiting Warriors to secure a come from behind, 34-28, win at Hank Hernandez Field. Quarterback DAVIS WARREN had an excellent outing for Loyola, throwing three TD passes to DOMINIC BELISLE, GRANT ROQUEMORE and CARTER LINK. Some of the other big moments for the Cubs were defensive lineman BRANDON PERNECKY’s long distance interception return which set up Loyola’s first touchdown and TOMAS GRIEGO’s 70-yard kickoff return for a TD in the second half. The Cubs held leads of 7-0, 14-6, 21-14 and 21-20 before relinquishing 14 unanswered points in the second half until Griego’s kickoff return for a score. The frosh are now 5-4 overall. 

 A huge thanks to Father “Q”

A huge thank you goes out to Father John Quinn, S. J. who has once again generously provided professional quality action photos of the Cubs’ exploits on the field. His photos could be in Sports Illustrated despite the lighting challenges he faces at most high school venues. When you see Father “Q”, please let him know how much you appreciate his invaluable contributions to Cub Football. Please see the link below which contains all of his game photographs to date.