By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports
When the Loyola Flyers look back on their 34-17 Select Division III playoff loss to Ascension Episcopal, they won’t have to guess as to what went wrong.
A fumble on their own 26.
A fumble on their own 23.
A high punt snap, resulting in a 29-yard loss at their own 17.
And what was the result of those three miscues? Field goal, touchdown, touchdown.
“You just can’t make mistakes in playoff games,” Loyola coach Mike Greene said. “We gave them a short field, but it could have been worse if we hadn’t played pretty good defense.”
It was too much to overcome as the Flyers lost in the first round of the playoffs for the first time in three years Friday night at Messmer Stadium.
But even with that, there was still no shortage of chances for the Flyers.
After spotting the Blue Gators a 10-0 with the first two fumbles, Loyola battled back to make it 10-10 at halftime as Patrick Gosslee scored on a 1-yard run and Evan Lirette kicked a career-long 39-yard field goal.
The even battle continued throughout much of the third quarter, but when a punt snap resulted in Ascension Episcopal getting the ball at Loyola’s 17 with 3:38 showing, the Blue Gators jumped all over that opportunity. Connor Edmund scored on the next play to give them a lead they would never lose.
After a field goal gave the Blue Gators a two-score lead, Loyola came right back with an 81-yard drive that resulted in a 7-yard pass from Bryce Carpenter to Jude Gaitan to make it 20-17 with 11:10 to play.
But Ascension Episcopal answered with a touchdown, putting Loyola down 10 points again. The Flyers drove to the Blue Gators’ 12, but on fourth-and seven, Greene had a decision to make and opted to try for a field goal.
The kick was blocked and even though the Flyers came up with a fumble on the next possession, they didn’t threaten again.
“I thought it was too long to go for it (on fourth down) and we needed two scores,” Greene said. “But that guy was coming hard off the edge and got to it.”
Gosslee had a career-high 172 yards on 23 carries before being injured at the end of the third quarter. Playing with a torn toe ligament, Carpenter’s scrambling ability was limited but he did complete 15 of 30 passes for 107 yards.
Despite losing 29 yards on one play, the Flyers still outgained the Blue Gators 310-235.
“I was so proud,” Greene said. “I thought our kids played hard and we played better defensively than we have all year.”
Ascension Episcopal advances to take on No. 1 seed St. Charles in LaPlace next week in the second round. The Flyers, who started only seven seniors, finished with a 4-6 record.
“We got a lot of kids some experience and they played hard,” Greene said. “The seniors busted their tails out there.”
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ASCENSION EPISCOPAL 34, LOYOLA 17
AE 10 0 10 14 – 34
LCP 0 10 0 7 – 17
AE – FG Andrew McCormick 33
AE – Connor Edmund 1 run (Alex Mahfouz kick)
LCP – Patrick Gosslee 1 run (Evan Lirette kick)
LCP – FG Evan Lirette 39
AE – Edmund 17 run (Mahfouz kick)
AE – FG McCormick 33
LCP – Jude Gaitan 7 pass from Bryce Carpenter (Lirette kick)
AE – Branon Mitchell 13 pass from Edmund (Mahfouz kick)
AE – Hayden Pearson 2 run (Mahfouz kick)
RUSHING: AE (31-75), Edmund 14-55-2TD, Pearson 9-27, Mitchell 7-minus-4, McCormick 1-minus-3. LCP, (43-203) Gosslee 23-172-1TD, Reagan Coyle 6-34, Carpenter 12-30, Rowen Guthikonda 1-minus-4, Team 1-minus-29.
PASSING: AE, Edmond 13-24-1-160-1TD, LCP, Carpenter 15-30-2-107-1TD.
RECEIVING: AE, Mitchell 4-63, Henry Neusetzer 2-27, Evan Brown 2-27, Pearson 2-3, McCormick 1-7, Hudson Campbell 1-21, Beau Domengeaux 1-5. LCP, Jake Black 7-57, Jude Gaitan 3-28-1TD, Coyle 3-13, Guthikonda 2-9.