Loyola takes step back against St. Augustine

Maybe it was false confidence after their season-opening 51-7 victory over outmanned Fairfax. Maybe it was the expectation of an easy outing after defeating the Saints 41-0 last fall in San Diego. Maybe it was simply a llack of focus. But whatever the reasons were, the Cubs did not appear ready to bring their A-game against a physical St. Augustine squad in their home opener at Smith Field on Friday. The visitors hit three big plays in the first half to stake themselves to a 21-0 lead. For the first 24 minutes the Big Blue offense was stuck in neutral.

On the second play of the game, the Saints’ 6’ 5”, 240 lb. tight end was uncovered and raced 81 yards after a shirt pass reception for a touchdown, which unfortunately for Loyola set the tone for a forgettable performance in game two. The final score was St. Augustine, 28, Cubs 10.

Loyola’s lone touchdown came on a fumble return by junior outside linebacker DOMINICK BELISLE in the fourth quarter. Senior kicker NICHOLAS BARR-MIRA kicked a 30-yard field goal late in the third period. After Belisle’s TD play, the Cub ‘Wolfpack’ defense got a stop and momentum appeared to be tilting in Loyola’s favor, but the Cub offense could not close the deal on its ensuing pissession. Adding insult to injury, late in the fourth quarter the Saints tight end again scored on another long distance catch and run. He finished the night with 204 yards on just five catches.

The list of Loyola’s failings was long according to the coaching staff. Subpar blocking, missed tackles, assignment miscues, six fumbles (one lost, ending a drive), dropped balls, and penalties, all combined to the ugly loss.

Make no mistake about it. St. Augustine (3-0) is good football team, and for the first half at least played more physically than the Cubs, who dropped to 1-1 in the win-loss ledger. But Loyola was and is capable of a much better effort than that exhibited on Friday. Henceforth, significantly better efforts will be necessary in every remaining game if the Big Blue is to reach any of its preseason goals.

The going does not get any easier for the young Cubs, who will face undefeated Cathedral (3-0) this Friday. The Phantoms are another physical football team. Six of the Cubs’ remaining eight opponents are ranked in the Los Angeles Times’ top 25. Cathedral claimed the number 22 spot that had been occupied by Loyola.

Last Thursday at Smith Field, Loyola’s sophomore team ran roughshod over St.Augustine, 43-0. CHARLES COLLINS had three rushing touchdowns for the Cubs, including runs of 61 and 32 yards; quarterback NICOLAS MORALES threw a 42-yard scoring pass to JEFFREY JOHNSON; FINNEGAN POWELL scored on a long distance pick six. Loyola led 36-0 at halftime.

Every Cub team member played in the second half which was played with a running clock. Loyola’s ‘Wolfpack’ defense completely shut down the Saints’ offense, relinquishing only 30 net yards.

Loyola’s freshman football team traveled to San Diego on Saturday morning, and got back on the road in a joyful mood after a dominating 55-0 blowout win over host St. Augustine.

Inside linebacker PATRICK SODL started the scoring avalanche for the Cubs with a pick-six on the second play of the game. It was his first of two interceptions. On Loyola’s first offensive possession, running back HARRISON ALLEN took a sweep 65 yards for a TD. 

Among the other offensive scoring highlights for the Cubs: quarterback JOE TATUM’s 60-yard aerial to JACOBY “CO” KELLY who caught the ball in stride; another 25-TD toss by Tatum to Kelly; a five-yard TD pass from Tatum to running back TAHJ OWENS following a 39-yard catch by Kelly; and a seven-yard touchdown run by Owens, set up by a 60-yard reception by Kelly.

Loyola’s freshman team (2-0) has defeated its first two foes by the combined score of 103-7