A lot happened over a two-minute stretch late in the first quarter of Saturday’s 30-10 win over Marist in Chicago that explained why Loyola is in the Class 8A state semifinals for the third consecutive season.
It started with senior cornerback John Lynch downing sophomore Thomas Schaefer’s at Marist’s 1-yard line. After a false start penalty, the Ramblers recorded a safety to take a 2-0 lead with 4 minutes, 10 seconds left in the first quarter.
On the ensuing possession following the free kick, Loyola senior left tackle and Fordham recruit Charlie Gross got hurt and went to the sideline for the remainder of the game. But the Ramblers forged ahead and scored on senior quarterback Quinn Boyle’s 38-yard touchdown pass to junior receiver Rory Boos to put them up 9-0 with 2:27 remaining in the opening quarter.
“The took the momentum from the start,” Loyola head coach John Holecek said. “I can’t ask for better preparation and leadership from our guys. It was a total team effort. This team played as well as I’ve seen a football team play in a long time.”
Boyle said that series of plays from the offense, defense and special teams took the crowd out of the game and lifted Loyola’s spirits.
“That was so crucial,” he said. “It’s so difficult playing on the road in the playoffs. To get the momentum that early was huge for us.”
In a rematch of the 2015 Class 8A state final, Loyola (11-1) led 16-0 at the half, went ahead 23-3 and withstood a rally from the RedHawks (11-1) when they scored at the 8:24 mark of the fourth quarter to make it 23-10.
In addition to the safety, the Loyola’s defense forced four turnovers, including two interceptions by junior safety Jake Gonzalez, and held the high-powered Marist offense to its fewest points of the season. The RedHawks, who entered the quarterfinals averaging 43.1 points, managed only 47 rushing yards and 243 total yards.
The Boyle-led offense did its part, too, scoring the most points of any Marist opponent and totaled 458 yards.
Like its done throughout the playoffs, Loyola ran the ball effectively, even without Gross or senior running back Hamid Bullie, who wasn’t healthy enough to carry the ball.
But as they’ve done all season, the Ramblers found a way to overcome the odds, going for 259 yards on the ground.
Seniors Chris Betz and Marty Geary, a starting defensive tackle, stepped in to help the offensive line, and sophomore running back Trevor Cabanban enjoyed a career night in only his third varsity game. Cabanban ran for 183 yards on 28 carries and scored two touchdowns.
“He saved our team, and he got that win for us,” Boyle said. “He’s a stud.”
Boyle, who ran 15 times for 68 yards, finished 13-for-23 for 199 yards and two touchdowns. Boos caught both touchdowns and ended with six receptions for 128 yards.
All of it added up to Loyola advancing to the Class 8A state semifinals for the eighth time in nine seasons. The Ramblers are looking for their fifth trip to the state championship game in six years.
“We’re losing guys, but we still come out and fight,” Holecek said. “The heart on this team is unparalleled. We’ve shown great toughness and leadership in some bad situations. They believe in themselves.”
Pictured above: Senior Anthony Rodriguez (32) and senior Chris Scott (40)
Photo credit: Melissa Krein/Loyola