LA PUENTE—One standout player returned from a knee injury Friday night, while another hobbled away on crutches.
Chaz Anderson of Loyola, injured four weeks ago in a non-league loss to Upland, returned to provide a lift against Bishop Amat in a Serra League game. The Boise State-bound receiver and defensive back caught a key third-down pass late in the first half to set up Loyola’s second touchdown in a 14-3 victory at Bishop Amat.
Just minutes before the reception, Bishop Amat quarterback Rio Ruiz had to be helped off the field after suffering a left knee injury when he was sacked by Loyola linebacker Bryan Christensen.
Ruiz, expected to be selected in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft in June, watched the remainder of the game from the sideline, a large ice bag taped to his knee and his leg supported with crutches. The shortstop and right-handed pitcher homered at Dodger Stadium in June to lead the Lancers to the SS-Division 4 title.
Bishop Amat coach Steve Hegarty did not have an update on Ruiz’s injury at the end of the game, but his mother, Dolores Ruiz, said at halftime that she didn’t believe the injury was serious.
Even with Ruiz in the game, the Lancers struggled to move the ball and couldn’t do much in the second half as sophomore Koa Haynes took over behind center.
"It wasn't pretty, but we'll take it," said Loyola coach Mike Christensen.
Loyola (7-1, 2-0) scored on the opening drive of the game, marching 65 yards in 11 plays and reaching the end zone on a one-yard run Cameron Walker.
Bishop Amat (6-3, 1-2) strung together its own lengthy drive on its first possession, but the Cubs came up with a big sack on third and eight and the Lancers had to settle for a 41-yard field.
Later in the second quarter, the Lancers muffed a punt at their own 10-yard line and Loyola appeared ready to capitalize, but Ruiz intercepted a pass from Nicolas Cotton in the end zone and returned it to the Bishop Amat 28.
However, Ruiz was injured on the ensuing drive and that seemed to take the steam out of the Lancers, as Loyola marched down the field and took a 14-3 lead on a two-yard touchdown run by Walker with eight seconds left in the half. The drive was kept alive by one of four catches by Anderson, who finished with 52 yards receiving.
“It was good to get him back,” Christensen said of Anderson. “He’s going to gain confidence every week.”
Anderson did not play defense and was mostly limited to key third-down situation on offense. He said afterward that his knee felt great.
“I got hit on it about the second quarter and went out for a minute,” he said. “But once I came back I got more confident.”