Cub Football - Controversial officials' call leads to close loss

Time and again Loyola's 'Wolfpack' defense gave the Cub offense excellent field position before a near-capacity house at Smith Field on Friday night against arch rival Bishop Amat only to witness yet another punt (with one exception) . . . until the seven-minute mark of the fourth quarter when Loyola mounted what was looking like the game-winning drive near midfield with the Lancers leading, 7-3. A NICHOLAS BARR-MIRA 26-yard field goal in the third quarter were the only points scored by the Big Blue in a battle for which Amat had two weeks to prepare.

Finally, the Cub offense began consistently moving the ball against the Lancers' huge down line, mixing the run with the pass with equal efficiency. Freshman quarterback MILLER MOSS, taking over for injured starter NATHAN PRIESTLEY, threw a perfect pass down the middle of the field through a tight window.  It was caught by a diving ALEX JOHNSON on a third-and-five play just after an 18-yard Moss completion on second down-and-23.

Loyola was in business deep in the red zone, and the Amat defense was on its heels. Moss's ensuing snap count at the Lancer eight yard line caused Amat's front to jump off side, setting the Cubs up with a first-and-goal at the three yard line.

The atmosphere was electric, the place was rocking, the roar of the home crowd was deafening. It looked like a vintage Loyola victory from yesteryear was close at hand. The handoff went to senior captain DAKOTA SMITH, who had made keys plays on both sides of the ball all night. Smith bolted through a crease on the right side of the line. He appeared down at the one yard line when the ball came out as he reached for the score. It rolled into the end zone and was covered by the Lancers. The din momentarily fell silent as the officials ruled it a fumble and signaled a touch back. The Amat players and crowd erupted in jubilation with 3:17 remaining in the contest as the Lancers had a first-and-ten at their 20-yard line.

The Cubs had only one time out left and needed to force a punt to have any chance. The Lancers' cagey quarterback kept the ball on an option play for a first down, and the game was in the books.

The San Gabriel Valley Tribune ran a video of the fateful "fumble" on Saturday with the rhetorical headline, "Is Bishop Amat fortunate there is no replay on Loyola's go-ahead fumble?" The answer would be in the affirmative, but it doesn't lessen the sting of the painful loss.

The setback dropped the Cubs' Mission League record to 1-1 with their two toughest conference games coming Friday against Serra and the following week against prohibitive title favorite Chaminade.

Loyola possesses grit and resolve and doesn't have a breaking point. Expect a rebound.