LOYOLA OVERPOWERED BY ST. AUGUSTINE IN SAN DIEGO

In its second non-league contest of the season Loyola ran into a proverbial buzz saw, as St. Augustine, the defending CIF San Diego Section Division I champion and 19th ranked team in California, made short work of the Cubs in an overpowering 42-5 beatdown at Morse College in San Diego on Friday night. On the home team’s first possession, the Saints methodically drove 75 yards for a touchdown in three minutes and three seconds, and never looked back.

Loyola threw an interception on its first possession, but St. Augustine gave the ball right back on a fumble recovered by the Cubs at their own 45-yard line. After driving for a first-and-goal at the Saints’ six yard line, set up by a beautiful, diving 48-yard reception by junior wide receiver CEYAIR WRIGHT on a perfectly thrown ball by junior quarterback BRAYDEN ZERMENO, the suffocating St. Augustine defense held Loyola to a 20-yard DIEGO BURGOS field goal, allowing the visitors to close the gap to 7-3 at the 4:32 mark of the first quarter. Those three points would the only points the Big Blue would put on the board in the game.

The Cub ‘Wolfpack’ defense, which was on the field most of the night, gave up another TD just eight seconds into the second quarter. The six-pointer capped a well-executed 70-yard drive. Still within striking distance, down 14-3, Loyola was hanging on until it fell victim to a 40-yard fourth down touchdown pass with 43 seconds left in the first half. For all intents and purposes, that was the death knell as the beleaguered Cubs trudged into the locker room on the short end of a 21-3 count at intermission.

Loyola sophomore kick returner TAHJ OWENS took the second half kickoff back 54 yards on a brilliant return-he sprinted 40 yards on the game’s second kickoff-but once again the fast and physical Saints defense forced yet another punt. Owens was one of the few bright spots of the night for the Cubs, both as a returner and running back.

St. Augustine promptly drove 90 yards on its ensuing possession, scoring on a 15-yard pass with 6:05 left in the third quarter. Less than three minutes later, following a Loyola fourth down fumble, the Saints increased their lead to 35-3 on a six play, 53-yard scoring drive. St. Augustine scored its final TD of the evening on a 25-yard pass to cap a 40-yard drive just seven seconds into the final stanza. With less than two minutes left in the game, Loyola’s defense forced a safety against the Saints reserves to make the final score 42-5.

The Cubs were clobbered by a much more talented team that was bigger, faster, stronger and had more athletes. The home squad’s line platoons dominated most of the evening. It would have taken a near perfect effort for Loyola to have made it a game. And, unfortunately, the effort was far from perfect.

St. Augustine’s defense was in attack mode all night, and the Cubs had no answers for the onslaught. Other than the drive which culminated in a field goal, Loyola’s offensive possessions ended as follows: interception, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, fumble, interception, interception, and clock running out.

Meanwhile, the Saints were forced to punt just twice and fumbled twice. St. Augustine’s six scoring drives covered 75, 70, 53, 90, 53 and 40 yards.

The search for a silver lining in this loss really comes up empty.

There are a lot of areas for improvement with eight games left in the regular season. At this juncture, the level of improved execution necessary for the Cubs to be a factor in league competition is more than substantial.

Loyola will travel to Cathedral next Friday. The Phantoms (2-1) handled Carson on Friday, 40-21. The Cubs have significant work to do before their battle with Cathedral.