WILMETTE, Ill. -- No. 6 Loyola Academy (6-0) took advantage of Mount Carmel's mistakes to win a battle of defenses and methodical offenses on 12-7 on Saturday afternoon.
The victory gave Loyola a decided advantage on Mount Carmel in the race for the Catholic League Blue title. That fact wasn't lost on running back William Palivos.
“We haven’t beaten Mount Carmel in the past four years, it’s the biggest win, especially for the seniors” said Palivos, after rushing for 77 yards on 12 attempts in a winning effort. “It was a great win … no, a great TEAM win. They’re a tough south-side team. Their toughness level we matched as a team and it showed.”
After the teams traded three-and-outs to begin the contest, Mount Carmel running back Brandon Greer busted thru the right side of the line and scampered for a 95-yard touchdown to open the scoring 6:07 in the first quarter, giving the Caravan a 7-0 lead.
Loyola pulled to within a point when quarterback Malcolm Weaver scored on a keeper from 8 yards out. The PAT bounced squarely off the left upright, leaving the score 7-6 with 11:23 left in the second.
Mount Carmel stormed back, chewing up the second quarter clock with long drives. The Caravan, however, were haunted by missed opportunities. Mount Carmel kicker Ivan Strmic missed a 30-yard field goal wide right; wide receiver Frank Kelley had a 35-yard TD catch called back (holding) then dropped a 35-yard pass in the end zone; and a 20-yard Greer touchdown run was called back on another holding call.
That sequence was of particular frustration to Mount Carmel coach Frank Lenti.
“I’ve said all along Loyola is the best team in the conference," Lenti said. "It was tough as we had two touchdowns called back on the same drive. The kudos go to Loyola for staying in there and finding a way to win in the end.”
The third quarter saw both teams slugging it out, with the defenses rising to the occasion. The fourth opened with Mount Carmel driving to the 20-yard line only to be stopped. Strmic missed again, leaving the score 7-6 with 9:32 left in the fourth quarter.
Loyola finally broke through via the air; a 35-yard touchdown catch by wide receiver Jason Gasser gave the Ramblers a 12-7 lead. Loyola opted for the two-point conversion try, which Caravan linebacker Derrick Bryant Jr. sniffed out.
Loyola had a chance to put the game away late in the fourth quarter, but the Caravan held strong with a goal line stand. They stopped Weaver on three attempts from the half yard line, handing the ball back to the Caravan offense with 2:19 left on the clock and 99 yards to.
“Our defense played their butts off and the offense just didn’t score enough points to support them," Lenti said. "We moved the ball well eating up most of the second quarter but we just didn’t put points on the board, pure and simple.”
The Caravan's offense, however, was unable to go the length of the field as the game ended deep in Loyola territory.