By Steve Metsch
After a first quarter that saw the Loyola and Brother Rice offenses stuck in neutral, the Ramblers’ formidable running game and stingy defense led them to big win over Brother Rice in a Week 3 Catholic League Blue showdown.
Senior Vaugh Pemberton and junior Marco Maldonado each scored two touchdowns for undefeated Loyola (3-0). Brother Rice (1-2) lost a second straight game.
“The offense showed what we do well, and that is give the ball to Vaughn and get away,” said Ramblers coach John Holocek. “Maldonado has got great acceleration and Vaughn is a workhorse. Kind of a power-and-speed combo there.”
Brother Rice senior wideout Dwayne Moorehead scored for the Crusaders on a 6-yard pass from junior quarterback Jack Lausch with 5:09 remaining in the game to cut the lead to 21-7.
Until late in the third quarter, the game felt like a prize fight with teams trading punches. Pemberton’s 41-yard rumble to the end-zone with 1:34 left in the third quarter gave Loyola a 14-0 lead.
“We didn’t make plays. They did,” said Brother Rice coach Brian Badke. “When you play teams like that, you’ve got to execute. They’re a great football team.
“I thought defensively we played very well. Offensively, we have to find an identity.”
The Crusaders seemed to gain momentum in the opening moments of the fourth quarter. Junior Rolando Sepulveda intercepted a pass by quarterback JT Thomas and returned it deep into Loyola territory.
“That would have been a huge mood change for us,” Sepulveda said.
Sepulveda was, however, flagged for pass interference, nullifying the pick. Three plays later, Maldonado’s 17-yard TD run made it 21-0.
“I thought it was clean. It was all ball,” Sepulveda said of the play. “As soon as I got tackled, I turned around and saw people complaining. That’s when I knew (a flag had been thrown).”
Badke didn’t like the call.
“But what are you going to do?” Badke said. “It’s part of the game. You’ve got to move on. I’m proud of our kids. In life, you’re going to deal with some adversity and how you’re going to react to this. Bounce back. Get back on our feet. Get ready to go.”
Brother Rice knew stopping Loyola’s running game was the key, Sepulveda said.
“Their offensive line, they’re pretty big, they’re pretty fast,” Sepulveda said. “We had to stop the run and we did that in the first half. But the second half, we couldn’t.”
Maldonado began the scoring with 1:33 left in the second quarter. On third-and three at Loyola’s 42, he caught a short pass from Thomas and raced past several defenders.
Pemberton’s 43-yard touchdown run with 3:59 left in the game closed the scoring.
“We had plenty of opportunities throughout the whole game, especially in the first half, to score early, get some momentum going,” Lausch said. “There were a lot more plays we could’ve made to put us in a better spot.”
Lausch was the victim of two drive-killing sacks by Loyola senior lineman Brandon Svets. One was for a loss of 13 yards. The other ended the first half.
“In that situation, you can’t take a sack, can’t go backwards,” Lausch said. “It’s something I’ll learn from and do better next time.”
In the game’s waning moments, Lausch ran 58 yards to Loyola’s 12. but his pass to Moorehead was intercepted by Martin Auer.
“Tough game,” Lausch said. “I love being out there, especially against Catholic League teams like this. It’s a war every week.”