By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports
The team that has had four games in which it couldn’t score more than one touchdown scored eight Friday night.
The quarterback who had only thrown seven touchdown passes all year threw five in one game.
The defense which had given up more than 300 yards seven times this year gave up less than 100 yards rushing and 66 yards passing – 60 of those coming on one play after it was already decided.
The school that had won 33 playoff games in its history but never scored more than 47 points in any of them put up a postseason record 61 on the board.
Other than the miserable weather conditions, you might say it was a pretty good night for the Loyola Flyers in a 61-14 win over St. Thomas Aquinas in the first round of the Select-Division III playoffs Friday at Messmer Stadium.
“We played pretty well,” said Loyola head coach Mike Greene. “I’ll be honest; I don’t like scoring that many points, but they wouldn’t do the (running) clock. We thought when we got up 35-0 at half we would just get out of there as fast as we could. So we didn’t have a choice but to keep playing.”
When you make out the list of the Flyers who fall into the category of “played well,” be sure to put quarterback Cooper DeFatta at the top. All he did was throw for five touchdowns (second-most in school history), pass for 211 yards (a career high) and run for 78, including a rather-miraculous 19-yard touchdown run right before halftime.
“Unbelievable,” Greene said. “You see him running around on that play and he just kept going. He played a hell of a game. I hope he saves some of that for next week.”
Of course, there are plenty of others on the roll call. Grayson Hutchins had an interception and a 56-yard touchdown reception. Running back Trace Wall had 105 yards … just in the second half (135 for the game).
Reagan Coyle had two touchdown catches and was one of the Flyers’ leading tacklers. Rowan Guthikonda had two blocked kicks and caused two fumbles on strip sacks.
Anybody else? Well, let’s not forget sophomore kicker Evan Lirette, who may not have the strongest leg you’ll ever see, but it was good enough hit all eight extra points kicks (tying the school record) and a 21-yard field goal. And get this — that field goal was blocked. When you get a good north wind behind you, those kinds of things will happen.
Just about every good thing that could happen for the Flyers did happen. They recovered fumbles on three of the first four possessions. They blocked a punt that resulted in a safety. They had yet another kickoff – not an onside kick – that was recovered by Loyola 40 yards downfield. That’s getting to be a habit for Loyola special teams.
Of course, as much as they kicked off in this game, that was bound to happen sooner or later.
“I think we just wore them down,” Greene said. “Those early fumbles just kind of took the wind out of their sails. We got up 14-0 pretty quick and just steamrolled them after that.”
The Flyers (6-4) will now move on to play No. 6 seed Episcopal Friday night in Baton Rouge. STA finished 3-8.
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Loyola 61, St. Thomas Aquinas 14
Score by quarters
Loyola | 7 | 28 | 17 | 9 | – 61
St. Thomas Aquinas | 0 | 0 | 14 | 0 | – 14
L – Trace Wall 1 run (Evan Lirette kick)
L – John Carmody 24 pass from Cooper DeFatta (Lirette kick)
L – Grayson Hutchins 56 pass from DeFatta (Lirette kick)
L – Robert Pavlick 8 pass from DeFatta (Lirette kick)
L – DeFatta 19 run (Lirette kick)
STA – Vaughn 1 run (kick failed)
L – Lirette 21 FG
STA – Darrius Vaughn 60 pass from Cace Reed (Austin Davis run)
L – Coyle 50 pass from DeFatta (Lirette kick)
L – Coyle 24 pass from DeFatta (Lirette kick)
L – Safety, punt blocked in end zone
L – Wall 4 run (Lirette kick)
STA (37-98) – Vaughn 19-102, Reed 7-24, Gaige Truxillo 1-minus-3, Bryce Simoneaux 1-mnus-4, Davis 8-minus-17, Team 1-minus-4.
LCP (39-219) – Wall 24-135, DeFatta 8-78, Jon Ebarb 3-21, Hutchins 1-3, Carmody 2-1, Team 1-minus-19.
STA (4-10-1, 66 yards) – Davis 2-7-1, 6 yards, Reed 1-1-0, 60 yards, Simoneaux 1-2-0, 0 yards.
LCP (9-13-0, 211 yards) – DeFatta 9-13-0, 211 yards.
STA – Vaughn 2-61, Reed 2-5.
LCP – Coyle 4-106, Hutchins 2-60, Carmody 1-24, Pavlick 1-20, Wall 1-1.