Time to wipe the slate clean

LOYOLA DEFENSE STOUT AGAIN, OFFENSE STRUGGLES IN LOSS TO VISTA MURRIETA
In its final non-league contest of the season, the Cubs traveled to Murrieta on Friday to play Vista Murrieta on the Broncos’ homecoming night. Before a capacity, highly vocal home crowd Loyola’s ‘Wolfpack’ defense put forth an impressive effort for the second consecutive week, holding the home squad to just two field goals. Unfortunately, the Big Blue’s offense was once again staggeringly ineffective. 

Unofficially, on fourteen offensive possessions the Cubs punted eleven times (with one being blocked). Two other possessions ended with interceptions, and the last time Loyola had the ball the clock ran out. Putting on a punting clinic was not what the Cubs had in mind as they took the 90 mile bus ride to the Temecula Valley.

Loyola’s offense has now failed to score a touchdown in 20 consecutive quarters. That might be the longest skein of futility in the annals of the program. Against the Broncos, the Cubs were only able to muster a handful of first downs as the scoring drought continued. Unfortunately, changes in approach developed during the week leading up to Friday’s final non-league tilt did not transform the woebegone inefficiency of the Big Blue offense.

The ‘Wolfpack’ stop unit played with great intensity throughout the fray, allowing only two field goals against a team that rolled up 34 first half points against the CIF San Diego Section’s fourth ranked team in its preceding outing. With even a scintilla of production from the offense, Loyola could have easily notched a victory. The only points relinquished by Loyola’s defense in the first half came on a 30-yard Vista Murrieta field goal at the 1:21 mark of the first quarter.

On the Broncos’ first drive of the second half Cub junior inside linebacker STEVEN ARELLANO and senior linebacker CHASE BRANIGAN combined on a jarring tackle to cause a Vista Murrieta fumble, with Arellano picking up the loose ball and returning it to Loyola’s 32 yard line. It was another frustrating three and out for the Cubs, squelching the momentum created by the turnover. After Loyola’s defense forced another Bronco punt, the Cubs took over on their 14 yard line. Another three and out ensued, and disaster struck as the punt was blocked and rolled out of the end zone for a safety as Vista Murrieta players frantically tried to corral the ball. The safety increased the Broncos’ lead to 5-0 late in the third quarter.

The teams exchanged punts three times before Loyola secured favorable field position only to have an interception returned all the way to the Cubs’ 18 yard line. Vista Murrieta kicked a 36-yard field goal with 5:21 left in the fourth quarter to make the score 8-0.

The Broncos fumbled a Loyola punt following another three and out by the Cub offense. Set up for a potential game tying drive, a Cub interception quickly followed, ending the scoring opportunity. The Big Blue offense got the ball one more time with a little over a minute remaining in the game. With no time outs left, Loyola notched one first down before the clock expired.

Senior defensive lineman MARCUS AGUILAR had several sacks to pace the impressive effort of Loyola’s defensive platoon. The Cubs’ stop unit forced the Broncos to punt seven times and stuffed their lone fourth down attempt. The six points scored by Vista Murrieta wer 22 points below its season average.

TIME TO WIPE THE SLATE CLEAN

Yes, the Cubs are 1-4 and struggling mightily on the offensive side of the ball, but a new season gets underway on Friday as Loyola will travel to Mission Hills to take on Alemany in the first contest of its five game Mission League schedule  The Cubs have an opportunity to erase their non-league struggles, regroup and figure out a way to move the ball on offense. While there is a lot to work on, opportunity abounds nonetheless. Some players need to step up and every member of  the team needs to make a decision that there are still plenty of goals for which to play.