Opportunistic offense leads Loyola to quarterfinals
Loyola's Cody Sullivan puts a hit on Bartlett's Deon Nido to break up a pass reception Saturday in Loyola's 31-7 win. | John Konstantaras~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 9, 2012 9:08PM
STREAMWOOD — Bartlett was determined to not to get beat by the big play Saturday, so the Loyola football team carved up the Hawks in a more methodical fashion.
The Ramblers’ offense was a model of efficiency as it mounted one long scoring drive after another to punch a ticket to the Class 8A quarterfinals with a 31-7 second-round win at Millennium Field.
All five of Loyola’s scoring drives lasted at least 12 plays, and senior quarterback Peter Pujals feasted on the short passing routes Bartlett’s defense made available by completing 31-of-45 attempts for 266 yards. His top two receivers also enjoyed big days as senior Richie Wehman III racked up 15 receptions for 127 yards and junior Joe Joyce totaled 10 catches for 80 yards.
“We had the game plan that was necessary for their defense and we executed it pretty well,” Pujals said. “If we make the correct reads, I make nice passes and (the receivers) catch the ball like they did, we’ll be fine.”
Loyola (10-1) moves on to play Palatine on Nov. 10 at noon, but a spot in the quarterfinals was no sure thing for the Ramblers after they fell behind 7-0 on senior Aaron Everson’s 66-yard touchdown run on the game’s second play from scrimmage.
The lead didn’t last long for Bartlett (7-4) as Loyola marched 57 yards in 12 plays on the ensuing possession and tied the score when Pujals took a quarterback draw from 4 yards out into the end zone midway through the first quarter. The Ramblers then pulled ahead for good when senior Ryan Ribordy’s 1-yard touchdown plunge capped a 17-play, 84-yard drive that made the score 14-7 with 8:33 left in the second quarter.
It was more of the same in the second half as long Loyola drives led to sophomore Mike Kurzdlowski’s 32-yard field goal, Julius Holley’s 2-yard touchdown run and senior Colin Skinner’s 3-yard touchdown run. Loyola was a perfect 5-for-5 on fourth-down conversions and finished the contest with 445 yards of total offense and 31 first downs.
“Our game plan was to make them take 15 plays,” Bartlett coach Tom Meaney said. “We wanted to keep everything in front of us.”
Added Bartlett defensive end Chris Kantzavelos: “They are just a great offensive passing team. Our D-line played our hearts out trying to get that quarterback, but he’s so shifty. He played an excellent game.”
Everson added to his single-season school rushing record by racking up 102 yards on 20 carries. He also had a 71-yard reception from senior quarterback Steve Hrbacek, who finished with 117 passing yards in his first extended time under center since breaking his clavicle on Bartlett’s first possession of the season in August.
Holley, a junior, totaled 113 yards on 22 carries for Loyola. Meanwhile, the Ramblers defense stiffened after allowing the early touchdown and held the Hawks to only two first downs in the second half.
Senior Daniel Rafferty recorded his fifth interception of the year to thwart a promising Bartlett drive late in the second quarter. The Ramblers finished with a 4-3 advantage in turnovers.
“That long run was kind of a shocker with it being the second play of the game, but I think we got ourselves together and battled the rest of the game,” Rafferty said.
Pick up your local Pioneer Press newspaper on Thursday to read more about the Loyola football team.