Loyola's defense stifles Maine South
Loyola's Conor Hough led a defensive front four that help smother Maine South in the Class 8A quarterfinals Saturday in Park Ridge.
Haugh had 2 sacks and along with Tim Thompson, Armoni Dixon and Edward Eastman suffocated the Maine South offense as Loyola knocked off the Hawks 17-0.
It's the ninth time in the last 10 years Loyola (9-3) has advanced to the state semifinals. The Ramblers, who have posted 2 shutouts in the playoffs, will meet the Lincoln-Way East vs. Edwardsville winner next week.
"We got better with the more we practiced," Loyola coach John Holocek said. "We know these guys pretty well and the pass rush really helped shutting down the running game. It was a very satisfying win."
Loyola limited Maine South (10-2) to just 4 first downs and 81 yards of total offense. The Hawks went three-and-out on their first 5 possessions and did not have a first down until there were just over 7 minutes left in the first half. Loyola ran 67 offensive plays to Maine South's 33.
Hough and company had Maine South quarterbacks Cole Dow and Bobby Inserra feeling very uncomfortable when they went to pass.
"We really did a good job," Hough said. "Our coaches really prepared us well. We knew their blocking schemes they were running and we just tried to execute our stunts. We knew if we could get to the quarterback and put pressure on him it would give a better shot to our DBs."
It was the first time that Maine South had been shut out since the regular season of 1995. The Hawks did go on to win the state championship that year.
"We couldn't get anything going on offense," Maine South coach Dave Inserra said. "They are a very good defense. They are long and they take up space and obviously well coached."
Despite the lack of success offensively, Maine South trailed just 3-0 at the half thanks to some solid play by the Hawks' defense led by Dylan Harris, Jimmy Nuzzo and Ryan Kilburg.
Loyola then made a statement to begin the second half.
The Ramblers marched 70 yards in 13 plays while consuming nearly half of the third quarter. Jack Fallon, who was 13-of-23 for 131 yards, slipped a pass to Rory Boos just inside the pylon for a 10-yard touchdown to make it 10-0.
"To make it a two-score game, we could breathe a little easier," Holocek said. "That's an important score. Then the third score we felt real good."
The final Rambler touchdown was set up by an interception and a 25-yard return by Jake Gonzalez to the Maine South 7. Three plays later, Michael Garvic crashed over from the 1 to make it 17-0 with 9:12 to play.
Loyola, which struggled early in the season thanks to some key injuries, is playing its best football now.
"Going back, we corrected a lot of mistakes," Holocek said. "We are healthier, so we are playing well."