Loyola handles Boys’ Latin in rain-shortened match (VIDEO HERE!)

Loyola quarterback Jeffrey Snider (left) is chased by Boys’ Latin’s defensive end Chris Swayne during the first half of Friday’s football contest in Towson. Snider threw for a score as the Dons gained their first victory with a 24-0 decision at Hargaden Field.

by Derek Toney

When Loyola Blakefield lost to Boys’ Latin School last year, it arguably was the beginning of a difficult transition for the Dons’ program.

Friday, the rebirth may have begun. Loyola defeated Boys’ Latin, 24-0, at Hargaden Field in Towson. Kaire Umoja and Trey Oakley each had a rushing score, and senior quarterback Jeffrey Snider threw for another.

The Dons (1-0 overall) did all their scoring in the first half. Both teams agreed to make it official at halftime after lightning and rain blanketed Towson and most of the Baltimore region, forcing postponements and cancellations of several area football games Friday evening.

Last weekend, Loyola played a little more than quarter before weather halted its match at perennial western Maryland powerhouse Fort Hill. The game was declared no-contest.

Though the Dons haven’t played a full game, coach Anthony Zehyoue likes what he’s seen.

“I see a group of guys who believe. When you lose eight games, one of the biggest things you try to fight against is doubt…we know we have players with a lot of ability,” said Zehyoue. “Our jobs as coaches is to reinforce that belief.”

Last season, the Dons went 2-9, its worst season since 2013 (3-8). Since a dominant run from the late 1990s to late 2000s (won six MIAA A Conference titles between Joe Brune and Brian Abbott), Blakefield last had a winning season in 2008.

After going 2-8 overall and winless (0-6) in MIAA A play last fall, Loyola decided in December to temporarily leave the MIAA A and play an independent schedule in 2018. The Dons will play MIAA A schools Mount St. Joseph and Gilman School as well as rival Calvert Hall College in the Turkey Bowl.

Loyola feels it’s in a much better place than a year ago when they opened the season with losses to Boys’ Latin and John Carroll School, both from the MIAA B.

“We’re committed, we’re lifting each other up after every play,” said Don senior wide receiver/defensive back Thomas Keirn. “We’re giving each other confidence.”

Loyola was boosted immediately Friday as senior defensive back Mason Rush recovered a fumble on the game’s first play from scrimmage. On the next play, Snider connected with sophomore Jordan Moore for a 30-yard touchdown.

The Dons got to the Lakers’ 1-yard line on their next possession before settling for a Caleb Sanders’ 19-yard field goal for a 10-0 advantage with 7 minutes, 46 seconds left in the opening quarter. Boys’ Latin (0-2) got into Loyola territory on the ensuing drive, but Keirn intercepted Laker quarterback Jyair Thomas.

The Dons continued frustrating BL, blocking a field goal and returning it to the Lakers’ 29. Oakley followed a 25-yard pass play from Snider to Moore and Umoja’s two-yard run with a two-yard blast into end zone with 10:30 remaining in the second.

Highlighted by sophomore Adrian Russell’s 43-yard jaunt, Loyola went 89 yards in nine plays as Umoja’s two-yard capper made it 24-0 with 4:17 before halftime.

Russell finished with six carries for 74 yards and Snider totaled 97 yards between passing (4-of-8, 69 yards) and rushing (seven carries for 28 yards). Cian Callahan recorded a sack and Bennett Traurig got the block on the BL field goal attempt that led to the Dons’ second touchdown.

The Dons have won four games since opening 4-0 in 2016. Loyola hosts Curley Friday afternoon at Hargaden Field.

“The young guys are starting to buy into the new culture and I think the older guys want to change the program just as bad as coaches,” said Traurig, a senior two-way linemen.

“We’re certainly moving into the right direction. We got a lot of guys that believe…I keep using that word but, honestly, that’s the reality,” Zeyhoue said. “A bunch of kids who believe and when they come to practice, that have a purpose.”

Loyola Blakefield 24, Boys’ Latin School 0 (game called at halftime because of weather)

Boys’ Latin 0 0 – 0

Loyola Blakefield 10 14 – 24

First quarter

Loyola – Moore 30 pass from Snider (Sanders kick)

Loyola – Sanders 19 field goal

Second quarter

Loyola – Oakley 2 run (Sanders kick)

Loyola – Umoja 2 run (Sanders kick)