Their running game might be hurting a little bit, but the Ramblers just keep on rolling.
Loyola joined the first group of teams to reach the five wins necessary to make the state playoffs, as Jack Penn passed the Ramblers to a 24-3 Catholic League Blue victory Friday night over host Brother Rice.
The 5-foot-11, 180-pounder was 20-for-26 for 213 yards and touchdown passes to Joe Joyce and Owen Buscaglia. Still-hobbled running back Julius Holley scored once, while kicker Mike Kurzydklowski added a 32-yard field goal for the Ramblers (5-0, 2-0).
Brother Rice (1-4, 0-2), now in dire playoff straits with St. Rita and Providence still on its menu, scored on a 45-yard field goal by Brian Kane.
“Our goal going into the season was to go week by week,” Penn said. “But now that we got to this fifth week, it’s nice to say that we’re 5-0.”
Penn put on an air show on Loyola’s second possession, completing passes of 18, four and seven yards to Joyce, and 15 and seven yards to Buscaglia.
It was Holley, however, who took the ball in, scampering nine yards around left end to break the scoreless tie with 43.8 seconds left in the first period. Holley’s night would end for the second week in a row because of cramping issues; he rushed just once in the second half, and seven times total for 14 yards.
Down 7-0, Brother Rice appeared to make a huge stop just after the midway point of the second period, Kurzydlowski kicking wide left on a field-goal try from 33 yards.
Two players later, though, Ryan Zinkula intercepted an Alex Alarcon pass and returned it to the Rice 24. Penn then went eight and 16 yards to Joyce, the second for a TD.
“That was awesome,” Penn said of Zinkula pick. “He played really well. Our defense played really well. They deserve a lot of props this game.”
Brother Rice had the last say of the first half, first when Marcus Jones ripped the ball out of the hands of Penn for a turnover, and as time expired when Kane was dead-on from 45 yards for a field goal.
The momentum switch was fleeting. Loyola scored on its first possession of the second half, going 66 yards on 14 plays, the capper a 36-yard field goal by Kurzydlowski. The Ramblers later parlayed another interception by Zikula into a 19-yard drive, finished on a 3-yard flip from Penn to Buscaglia.
Brother Rice’s final heartbreak of the night occurred when Alarcon (16-of-34, 131 yards), trying to find his way into the end zone after a solid 68-yard drive, hit a wall at the goal line and had the ball punched out. It was recovered in the end zone by Loyola’s Jack Gleason.