First down: After Saturday’s 35-3 victory over St. Rita in Wilmette, Loyola has won 23 games in a row. Its last loss was a 24-21 defeat to Stevenson in Lincolnshire in the second round of the Class 8A playoffs in 2014. Saturday’s win also marked the program’s 23rd consecutive victory at Hoerster Field (No. 77 Jack Badovinac, No. 14 Jake Marwede pictured above). The last time Loyola lost at home came in 2012 when the Ramblers suffered a 27-24 defeat to Glenbard North in the Class 8A semifinals. The Ramblers are 3-0 at home this season, posting wins against Maine South, St. Francis and the Mustangs. Their last regular season home game is in Week 8 against Providence Catholic.

Second down: Senior Jack Moran scored his first varsity touchdown Saturday, and the 6-foot-2, 190-pound receiver paid the price. Right after he caught the 4-yard pass from senior quarterback Tommy Herion in the end zone, Moran endured a big hit by a St. Rita defender. “They put me in there because they know I can take hits and get back up,” Moran said. “They have trust I can make those kind of plays.” Moran is considered one of the best blockers among the receivers, according to Loyola receivers coach Pat Naughton, and it’s something he enjoys. “When I got on the field last year, I made sure I went all out with my blocking,” Moran said. “It’s all about protecting your teammates. If I’m called on, I block whoever is in front of me.” For the season, Moran has 16 catches for 130 yards and one TD.

Third down: In alumni news, Holy Cross senior quarterback and 2013 Loyola graduate Peter Pujals said Sunday he’s in good spirits after suffering an injury to his ankle during the first half of the Crusaders’ 35-10 loss to Dartmouth on Sept. 24. Pujals, a captain and one of the best quarterbacks to ever play for Holy Cross, didn’t play in Saturday’s 38-28 win against Lafayette. “I’m hanging in there,” he said. “I’m rehabbing every day, and we are taking it week to week.” Meanwhile, Pujals said it’s been fun mentoring freshman quarterback Emmett Clifford, a 2016 Loyola graduate, this season. “You could tell right away that he learned a lot at Loyola,” Pujals said. “He just jumped right in and a good camp. He’s doing great.”

Fourth down: Loyola doesn’t punt often. Through six games, the Ramblers have only punted 14 times. But senior Mark Nicholson showed Saturday he can be an asset for the team. He arguably had his best game of the season against St. Rita, averaging 39.3 yards on three punts. His first punt, late in the second quarter, pinned the Mustangs at their own 11. St. Rita’s drive ended when Loyola junior linebacker Anthony Rodriguez intercepted a pass, and the Ramblers went on to add to their lead. Nicholson booted another beauty early in the third quarter, and St. Rita was forced to start from its own 12. The switch in field position led to Loyola’s final touchdown. For the season, Nicholson is averaging 34.8 yards on 12 punts. Senior quarterback Tommy Herion has the team’s other two punts.

Photo credit: Melissa Krein/Loyola