Loyola wins big, captures share of conference title
Loyola's Julius Holley tries to avoid Brother Rice defenders closing in. | Patrick Gleason ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 13, 2012 11:15PM
WILMETTE — Loyola’s defense apparently has its mojo back, though there’s some debate about whether it was ever gone.
The Ramblers, who are ranked No. 4 by the Chicago Sun-Times, grounded Brother Rice’s high-flying passing game on a rainy Saturday afternoon, winning 45-0 to clinch a share of the Catholic League Blue title.
Loyola (7-1 overall, 3-0 conference) can win the conference title outright with a victory next Friday at St. Rita, which must win to earn an IHSA playoff berth. Brother Rice (4-4, 1-3) is in the same position and needs to beat Leo to qualify for the state playoffs.
“We’ve got a pretty good team, but we’ve got a ways to go to get to that caliber,” Crusaders coach Brian Badke said of the Ramblers.
The numbers certainly look better this week than last for Loyola, which was coming off a 49-28 win over Fenwick. Middle linebacker Cody Sullivan called that performance “unacceptable and embarrassing,” adding, “We didn’t show what our defense was about.”
Loyola coach John Holecek wasn’t sure it was that bad.
“You look at last week and it was really three or four big plays,” he said. “If our corners stayed outside, we’ve got two guys ready to make a tackle on the long run. Luke Ford, tired from playing both ways, falls off a guy for a 70-yard touchdown run and then Charlie (Schatz) ... gets turned around. And the fourth touchdown is the kick return. So we really didn’t play that bad. It was like 250 yards (for Fenwick) and three plays (for) 125.
“So yeah, we’ve got to limit the big plays. ... Collectively, there’s three guys who had three bad plays and they’re a good team so that happens sometimes.”
Rice has shown the ability to be a good team as well, most notably in a win at St. Rita when quarterback Matt Page threw for more than 400 yards. But the Crusaders had nowhere near that kind of day against the Ramblers.
Lineman Jack Rushin was one of the reasons for that.
“We obviously didn’t play our best last week,” Rushin said. “We knew we had to come out this week and focus. ... We wanted to come out and get pressure and do our job.
“We feel like we can be the best defense in the state.”
The Ramblers looked the part on Saturday, limiting Page to 4-of-25 passing for 27 yards with three interceptions. Loyola also held Rice to three first downs, all before halftime, and 6 rushing yards on 16 carries.
“Matt didn’t have a lot of time to throw,” Badke said. “We had three sophomores starting on the offensive line and it showed. When Matt has time, he can be very effective. So I give a lot of credit to Loyola. They’ve got a good football team; we want to get to that level.”
The Ramblers had a balanced day on offense. Julius Holley (23 carries, 89 yards) had scoring runs of 17 yards and 1 yard in the first quarter. Quarterback Peter Pujals accounted for 190 passing and rushing yards and two scores, on runs of 43 and 8 yards in the second quarter.
Mike Kurzydlowski added a 27-yard field goal for a 31-0 halftime lead.
Loyola scored twice in the third quarter on Colin Skinner’s 7-yard run and Devin Murphy’s 3-yard return of a Rice fumble, triggering a running clock.
“I think we definitely made a statement today,” said Loyola’s Richie Wehmann III, who caught six passes for 66 yards.
A pretty strong statement for the defense, in fact.
Pick up your local Pioneer Press newspaper Thursday to read more about the Loyola football team.