Cub freshmen suffer first loss with significant aid from officials

Loyola freshman team loses heart breaker to Vista Murrieta with shocking help from officiating crew
Going into Thursday's road game against Vista Murrieta the Cub freshman team had yet to play an opponent that gave it much competition. By the middle of the first quarter of Loyola's final non-league contest against the Broncos on a hot, windy afternoon in Murrieta, it became patently obvious that the Cubs were not only playing against a depth-laden team with 90-plus members, but also against an officiating crew that clearly had an agenda that favored Vista Murrieta to the point of incredulity.

Drive-ending penalty flags were thrown against Loyola with regularity and penalties were called with equal frequency against the Cubs, keeping numerous Bronco drives alive. Approximately 14 flags were thrown against Loyola in what was the most blatantly biased officiated football contest this writer has watched in over 50 years. The Cub coaching staff was aghast at the phantom penalties conjured up by what proved to be striped-shirted opponents. Using bad official calls as a legitimate excuse for losing does not normally stand up, but in this particular case the sheer volume and times the flags were thrown left no doubt that the officiating crew had a direct impact on the outcome of the contest.

To be sure, the Broncos were the best coached opponent Loyola has played thus far this season, and the size, strength and depth of their offensive and defensive lines trumped the prowess of the Cubs' trench men in each of those categories. Without the officials' contribution to the outcome, though, a four point loss would have been another victory for Loyola, despite several costly miscues and breakdowns.

Running back HARRISON SMITH raced 69 yards for a Cub touchdown just 39 seconds into the game, and the 'Wolfpack' defense forced a three and out on the Broncos' first offensive possession. Loyola punted on its next possession after flags were thrown, and then Vista Murietta went on a flag-assisted 82-yard drive, capped by a 10-yard TD jaunt to tie the score. On their ensuing possession the Cubs coughed up the ball on their own 29 yard line, and the Broncos scored on a short run with 1:43 left in the first quarter. The Broncos missed the PAT kick to make the score 13-7 in favor of the home squad.

Loyola overcame several flags on their next possession, driving 71 yards with a 17-yard scoring pass from JOE TATUM to wide receiver PETE VANIS capping the march. A blocked PAT made the score 13-13. What would turn out to ultimately be the difference-making play of the game-when not considering the officials' role-came on the ensuing kickoff which was taken 80 yards to paydirt by Vista Murrieta's diminutive starting running back. The PAT kick made the score 20-13 in favor of the Broncos. It was looking like the bottom was falling out for Loyola when Vista Murrieta blocked a Cubs' punt on the Big Blue's next possession, with the Broncos taking over at the Loyola 30 yard line. Another officials' assisted drive ended in a Vista Murrieta TD. The Cubs' blocked the Broncos' PAT kick attempt to make the score 26-13 in favor of Vista Murrieta.

With 1:30 left in the second quarter the Cubs seized the momentum with a perfectly executed double pass for a touchdown that covered 70 yards. Tatum threw a lateral to Vanis who turned and threw a perfect pass to a streaking JACOBY KELLY. An aerial to tight end WILL ALLEN on the extra point try closed the gap to 26-21 just before halftime.

A big sack by Loyola on the Broncos' first drive of the second half forced a field goal try that was short. At the 2:15 mark of the third quarter, after several drive-interrupting flags, Tatum threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Harrison Allen. Tatum's two point conversion on a run around right end put the Cubs in the lead 29-26.

Aided by several flags, including two on fourth down plays, Vista Murrieta scored on a four yard run to pull ahead, 33-29.Loyola could not answer with barely over a minute left in the game.

The Broncos were physical up front and shuffled in talented line back-ups as the game progressed. Meanwhile, with several Cub linemen who were going both ways Loyola began to wear down during the latter stages of the second half.

A beautifully executed 70-yard touchdown sprint by Loyola running back TAHJ OWENS was one of the many huge plays nullified by penalties.

The loss stings, but the caliber of opponent is just what the Cubs (4-1) needed before embarking on the Mission League portion of their schedule next week.  Loyola fought gallantly until the end and showed great resolve throughout the contest. No predictions can be made as to how the Cubs will fare in conference play, but one thing is certain, they will be compete with uncommon physicality in each of the remaining five games.