Loyola overpowers Boys’ Latin in MIAA B football semifinals
by Gary Adornato
Playing as an MIAA independent the last few seasons has been a bit unfulfilling for the Loyola Blakefield football team. The team has had to dig deep for sources of motivation with no conference championship opportunity on the line.
There is always the Turkey Bowl against arch-rival Calvert Hall (with the exception of last year when it was canceled because of COVID-19), but the Dons have missed the sense of building towards a post-season and earning the right to compete for a championship.
That has not been a problem in 2021, however.
Loyola was accepted as a member of the MIAA B Conference for this season and on Saturday night they will play for the league title, ironically enough at Calvert Hall, against Concordia Prep, after the top-seeded Dons routed fourth-seed Boys’ Latin, 35-0, in a semifinal game on Saturday afternoon at Blakefield
Despite some rainy and windy conditions, the Dons’ offense was on point, scoring on five of its six first half possessions and rushing for 258 yards in the half, as they built a 27-0 lead.
Senior Micah Robinson carried the load early, scoring on a 4-yard run on the Dons’ first possession and bolting for a 45-yard score in the second quarter. He rushed for 144 yards over the first two quarters and got the rest of the afternoon off.
In between Robinson’s TD runs, Loyola got a pair of field goals from senior Conor Becks, from 31 and 30 yards.
Boys’ Latin’s best drive of the day came after Robinson’s second touchdown. The Lakers moved from their own 20 to the Loyola 26 on three straight completions by senior quarterback Kaden Lymon and a roughing the passer call, but things fell apart from there for the Lakers.
On a first and 10 from the Loyola 26, Lymon was sacked for a 12 yard loss before being intercepted by sophomore Jayden Moore at the Loyola 20 with just 52 seconds left in the half.
Moore, a superior athlete who plays all over the field for the Dons, then lined up at quarterback for the first time in the game. From the pistol formation, he faked a handoff to Robinson before bolting through a huge hole up the middle for a back-breaking 80 yard touchdown run.
Huge holes were a theme of the day as the Loyola offensive line of sophomore center LJ Holland, senior guards Christian Author and Matt Maurath, and tackles Billy Ewan (senior) and Trevor Szymanski (sophomore) gashed holes in the BL defensive front all afternoon.
“We are not the biggest offensive line, so we try to pride ourselves on being really fundamentally sound, really technically sharp, and being able to work together in combo,” said Loyola head coach Anthony Zehyoue. “They did a really good job of that today.”
Robinson agreed with his coach.
“They were coming with a lot of pressure so we came with a counter,” Robinson said of his TD run. “Shout out to Christian Author. He had two great blocks, on both of my touchdowns.”
Zehyoue said the team’s game plan actually called for the Dons to pass a little more, but the weather impacted that strategy, as a nice morning gave way to colder temperatures, wind gusts and a light to moderate rain which engulfed the Dons’ Hargaden Field for the entire first half.
The sun returned for the second half and it shined brightly on the Dons, who put the running clock in motion when junior quarterback Marcus Hines connected with Moore, on a fourth down play, for a 39-yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter. Hines added a two-point conversion pass to AJ Syzmanski to reach the 35-point margin which sets the running clock in motion.
When the clock reached zeros in the fourth quarter, Loyola was on its way to the championship game.
“It means a lot because these games aren’t guaranteed,” said Moore. “The Turkey Bowl is always guaranteed; you always have something to fall back on. These games have to be earned. We earned these games and we earned this championship game.”
Robinson expressed similar sentiments.
“We finally have something to play for,” said the senior. “It’s not like the Turkey Bowl. We can have our worse season and still win Turkey Bowl, but that is still not as satisfying as getting to win a championship and getting to win a ring for the first time in a long time.”
According to Zehyoue, the quest for a championship has made part of his job easier.
“In years past, one of the things that was hard for me as a coach, you had to find different angles of motivation,” he said. “You had to create things for guys to get motivated about. Now, you don’t have to because you have a game, you have another game — a championship game and then the Turkey Bowl.”
Boys’ Latin veteran head coach Ritchie Schell, who completed his 21st season with the Lakers, said his guys gave their all.
“This team overachieved,” said Schell. “Even if we played a perfect game, they probably would have won, but we fought. They’re good and we have no excuses. We have a great group and they overachieved.”
Pictured above: Loyola’s Micah Robinson (#4) prepared to enter a huge hole on his way to a 4-yard run for the game’s first touchdown of the day.