First published in the Oct. 28 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun. By Jonathan Williams
Special to the Outlook Valley Sun.
In a low-scoring affair, points come at a price. It turns out St. Francis cashed in their senior discount on the wrong night.
Loyola spoiled Senior Night at St. Francis with a 6-3 nonleague victory at Jim Bonds Stadium.
Loyola improved its record in the four-team Angelus League to 2-0 (7-2 overall) and, with one game remaining in the regular season, clinched at least a share of the league championship. Meanwhile, St. Francis fell to 1-1 in league (6-2 overall).
Loyola kicker Mark Hyan sealed the game with seven seconds remaining in the fourth quarter with the game-winning kick, which was tipped by a Golden Knight player but managed to go through the uprights.
“Almost drained,” Loyola head coach Drew Casani said after the victory. “Really, I’m just super excited for these guys. They’ve worked so hard for so long. There are some things we didn’t do right that we have to clean up [but] we feel like we played a good football game against a good football team.”
Loyola had blocked a Golden Knight field goal attempt with 4:16 to go in the second quarter, stunting a St. Francis drive.
In response, Golden Knights linebacker Myles Shannon blocked a Loyola field goal at the end of the first half.
Loyola running back Tahj Owens finished the night with 19 carries for 124 yards and two receptions for 20 yards. He was a key component to the game-winning drive.
“I’m glad we came out as a team and won this game,” Owens said.
Along with Owens’ stellar performance, Loyola quarterback Joe Tatum finished the night completing seven of 16 passes for 129 yards. Senior wide receiver and captain Peter Vanis had seven receptions for 71 yards while Baylin Brooks caught two passes for 33 yards. Jacoby Kelly caught four passes for 28 yards and Khalil Cueva rounded out the Loyola offense with one reception and 7 yards.
Gold and black balloons gripped the railings from endzone to endzone on Senior Night at St. Francis. Prior to the game, a veil of heartache draped over the crowd of nearly 5,000. This Thursday will mark the one-year anniversary of the passing of late coach Jim Bonds.
“I just feel bad for the players,” St. Francis head coach Dean Herrington said, “especially the seniors. We outplayed them but we just didn’t finish drives. Our defense played their best game of the year. It’s just tough. We get a piece of that ball [on the field goal kick] and it barely goes in.”
With 5:26 remaining in the fourth quarter, St. Francis kicker Clint Geryak saw his 33-yard try hit the upright.
“We had them on their heels,” Herrington said. “We just didn’t play well enough to finish off a team as good as them.”
St. Francis senior running back Max Garrison likely played his last home game in a Golden Knights uniform. He rushed for a team-high 84 yards on 16 carries and caught two passes for 20 yards.
“It’s a lot of disappointment and hurt,” Garrison said. “We thought we were going to pull this one out but, honestly, I’m proud of my guys. I’m proud we fought. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
St. Francis quarterback Jack Jacobs completed 9 of 13 passes for 121 yards. Senior wide receiver Alejandro Ramirez had three catches for 52 yards and sophomore Preston Jernegan caught two passes for 43 yards. Seniors Daniel Hara and Shannon caught one pass for 9 yards and 7yards, respectively.
On defense, seniors Diego Jimenez, Duncan Sprengel and Milo Orona each had a game-high seven tackles along with the sophomore Jerengan. Senior Mayze Bryant had six tackles while classmates Dylan Bell, Aiden Chisum and Shannon each had five. Senior Alejandro Ramirez had four tackles while fellow senior Mher Baranian and sophomore John Calmette each had three. Rounding out the defense was junior Racin Delgatty with one tackle.
“My hat’s off to Loyola,” Garrison said. “They came and got this one in a hard-fought game.”