Loyola has built one of the best Class 8A programs in the state on a foundation of defense.
On Friday night, Tommy Mister and St. Rita put a dent in that foundation.
Mister busted off touchdown runs of 49 and 60 yards before the game was six minutes old and the Mustangs rolled to a 31-19 home victory.
Mister finished with 337 yards of total offense – 222 yards and four touchdowns on 22 carries along with 115 yards passing — as the No. 9 Mustangs earned a share of the Catholic League Blue title for the first time since 2010.
No. 1 Loyola (8-1, 3-1) had a 14-game conference winning streak snapped but still figures to be in line for a top seed in Class 8A when the IHSA announces playoff pairings Saturday night. No. 2 Mount Carmel also had a share of the league title.
Mister has had more carries in a game this season, but has never been more effective.
“All week in practice, I’ve been practicing on giving the backs the ball a lot more,” he said. “I’ve usually been pulling it out when I run the read [option]. I’ve been a little stingy. But the coaches were on me about letting [the backs] get their share and [carrying] out my fakes.”
So Derrick Miles got 14 carries Friday and though he didn’t gain a lot of yards (29), he did keep Loyola defenders honest.
“When I was carrying out my fakes, they didn’t think I was going to keep the ball,” Mister said.
That meant when he did, the Ramblers couldn’t catch him.
“We had him penned in and all of a sudden, he’s out,” Loyola coach John Holecek said.
“He’s pretty good, he’s pretty quick,” St. Rita coach Todd Kuska said. “He’s got some speed.”
So do a few other Mustangs.
“I like a lot of our offensive guys, [when they] get in open space, there’s not a lot of guys who have been successful catching them. So that’s what we want to do — get them out in space.”
The scary thing for the rest of Class 7A is that St. Rita isn’t at full strength on offense. Receivers Malik Space and Xavier Allen are both out with injuries, but may be back for the postseason.
With them joining Mister, Miles, receiver Julian Crum and a few more, the Mustangs could be even more potent.
St. Rita (8-1, 3-1) never trailed. Mister’s early scores made it 14-0.
Jack Penn (18 of 34, 254 yards) threw a seven-yard touchdown pass to Joe Dixonto pull Loyola within 14-7 late in the first quarter.
But Mister had a two-yard touchdown run and John Kelly kicked a 43-yard field goal on the last play of the second quarter to make it 24-7 at the break.
Penn’s 73-yard scoring pass to Fran O’Malley made it 24-13 less than a minute into the second half. But Mister came right back with his fourth touchdown run, a five-yarder, to make it 31-13 at 7:48 of the third.
Penn’s third touchdown pass, a six-yarder to Joe Joyce with 3:14 left in the third, wound up being the last score of the game.