Coming off perhaps the biggest win in program history, No. 2 St. Frances Academy nearly had a letdown, Friday night at Patterson Park’s Utz Field, surviving a fourth quarter rally by visiting Loyola Blakefield to escape with a 28-26 MIAA A Conference victory.
St. Frances (8-1 overall, 4-0 MIAA A), which scored a 34-20 win over then-No. 1 McDonogh School, last week, had its hands full with the Dons all night. After a scoreless first quarter, the Panthers got on the board with a 26-yard touchdown pass from Isaiah Robinson to Randy Fields.
The Dons (4-4, 0-4 MIAA A), however, came right back with a 56-yard TD pass from Will Koras to Jason Smith to take a 7-6 lead with 10 minutes, 6 seconds to play in the opening half.
Midway through the second quarter Gary Brightwell scored on a 46-yard run to put St. Frances back on top and it never trailed again. Leading 12-6 at the half, the Panthers appeared to take control of the game with a pair of third quarter TD passes by Robinson, the first for eight yards to Fields and the second for 45 yards to Jordan Swann. As the fourth quarter got underway, St. Frances led 28-7.
Koras, however, refused to let the Dons go quietly as he threw three more touchdown passes, all to Kenny Lewis. The first went for 18 yards and the second for 35 yards to pull the Dons within one score, at 28-20.
Then, with just 1:05 to play, the pair connected again for a 5-yard touchdown, leaving the Dons just a two-point conversion short of tying the contest. But, Koras did not have another big play in his arm as his conversion pass attempt fell incomplete, allowing the Panthers to survive.
St. Frances remains a half game ahead of No. 1 Archbishop Spalding (3-0 in the league), which will visit Utz next Friday evening. No. 3 Mount St. Joseph is also 3-0 in the MIAA A after its 17-7 win over Calvert Hall on Saturday. The Gaels are still to play both Spalding and St. Frances, setting an exciting final few weeks of the season.
NO. 2 ST. FRANCES ACADEMY 28, LOYOLA BLAKEFIELD 26
LOY 0 7 0 19 — 26
SFA 0 12 16 0 — 28
SFA – Fields 26 pass from Robinson (kick failed)
LOY – J. Smith 52 pass from Koras (McLaughlin kick)
SFA – Brightwell 45 run (pass failed)
SFA – Fields 8 pass from Robinson (Wright pass from Robinson)
SFA – Swann 45 pass from Robinson (Brightwell run)
LOY – K. Lewis 18 pass from Koras (kick failed)
LOY – K. Lewis 35 pass from Koras (McLaughlin kick)
LOY – K. Lewis 5 pass from Koras (pass failed)