It was clear from the start Saturday that the Ramblers wanted to establish the run on a cold and rainy afternoon in Wilmette.
They did that and more in their 28-7 win over Hinsdale Central in the second round of the Class 8A state playoffs. Loyola (10-1) advances to the quarterfinals for the third year in a row and eighth time in nine seasons.
On their opening series, the Ramblers ran 11 times in 16 plays, concluding the 88-yard drive on senior quarterback Quinn Boyle’s 2-yard run for a 7-0 lead.
“Our offensive line and backs played really well,” Loyola head coach John Holecek said. “I think our running game was a big part of our success.”
Senior left tackle and Fordham commit Charlie Gross said offensive linemen love conditions like Saturday’s.
“This is the most fun kind of game for us,” he said. “We thought we could pound the ball and dominate them.”
The Ramblers ran 48 times for 260 yards, averaging 5.4 yards per attempt. Senior running back Hamid Bullie led the way, running for a season-high 145 yards on 19 carries. Boyle ran 13 times for 68 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore running back Trevor Cabanban added 41 yards on nine carries, all in the second half.
“[Bullie] was patient, saw the hole and exploded north to south,” Holecek said. “He’s still not yet gotten back his full explosiveness, but he’s stronger. In another year, he’s going to be a good college back.”
Loyola scored on three of its first four possessions to lead 21-0 at the half. The Ramblers gained 257 yards to 57 for the Red Devils. Hinsdale Central had three first downs in the first two quarters.
After getting the ball to start the second half, Loyola drove into scoring position, but the Ramblers turned it over on downs. The Red Devils (8-3) responded by scoring on a 33-yard pass to trail 21-7 with 4 minutes, 13 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Less than one minute later, Boyle answered with a 4-yard run at the 3:14 mark of the third quarter.
Loyola’s defense then forced three consecutive punts to help close out the game. The Ramblers outgained the Red Devils 393-188. Boyle finished 9-for-14 for 133 yards, throwing two touchdowns and no interceptions. Junior receivers Rory Boos and Noah Jones each caught one touchdown.
Following their 35-32 win over New Trier in the first round, Holecek said the Ramblers were focused all week in practice. Loyola let a 35-10 lead early in the fourth quarter slip away.
“We definitely stepped it up a notch,” Gross said. “The New Trier game kind of shocked us. Everybody was ready to go this week.”
Pictured above: Josh Green
Photo credit: Geoff Scott