Junior Marco Maldonado steps into the spotlight as Loyola beats Brother Rice
Top-ranked Loyola’s defense lived up to the hype again on Thursday, leading the Ramblers to a 28-7 road win against No. 9 Brother Rice.
Top-ranked Loyola’s defense lived up to the hype again Thursday, leading the Ramblers to a 28-7 road victory against No. 9 Brother Rice.
Harvard recruit Brandon Svets, a senior defensive end, had three sacks and provided some insight on why the Ramblers are so hard to score on.
“We returned seven of our guys from last year, and we’ve got a lot of talent,” Svets said. “It’s the dedication in the film room and on the field. We’ve been practicing for more than a year at this point. So we’ve been ready, and we’ve listened to our coaches.”
Brother Rice quarterback Jack Lausch had scrambles of 58 and 25 yards, but other than that, the Crusaders (1-2, 0-2 CCL/ESCC Blue) didn’t manage a play longer than 13 yards.
“As a coach, you’re always looking for improvements,” Loyola coach John Holecek said. “We can do a lot better in a lot of different areas. But Svets came out to be the real deal. You could see him being a monster at the next level.”
The Ramblers showed some glimpses of what the future holds on offense. Sophomore quarterback Jake Stearney led a scoring drive early in the third quarter, and junior running back Marco Maldonado scored on a 17-yard run in the third quarter and caught a 58-yard touchdown pass from starting quarterback JT Thomas in the second quarter.
“JT manages the ball and has been unbelievable,” Holecek said. “Maldonado has shown so much in practice. It’s nice to see him show something in a game because he hasn’t really had much of a chance with [Vaughn Pemberton] being so special.”
Pemberton, a Ball State recruit, tore through another top-ranked team. The senior had 19 carries for 161 yards, including touchdown runs of 41 and 43 yards.
Thomas was 8-for-14 for 97 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. Maldonado had 11 carries for 61 yards.
“[Pemberton] has been a real good big brother/mentor for me,” Maldonado said. “Obviously, he’s had a lot of success. We work together every day in practice to make each other better, and it shows on the field.”
The Ramblers (3-0, 2-0) find themselves in a unique situation. Because of COVID-19 cancellations, they don’t have a game scheduled for the next two weeks. Holecek said the team is hoping to find opponents, but the next game that will definitely happen isn’t until Week 6 against Marist.
“That could be the CCL championship, so there is a lot to get better for,” Holecek said. “We will practice against each other if we [don’t find games], but hopefully we do, and our varsity reserve guys get in and get some quality playing time, and the varsity guys will have the greatest time cheering them on.”
Brother Rice’s score came on a six-yard pass from Lausch to senior Dwayne Moorehead. Lausch was 12-for-22 for 87 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The Crusaders weren’t able to get their running game going. Senior running back Joshua Bell and Toledo recruit Willie Shaw were both held to fewer than 14 rushing yards.