A 14-point spurt in the final 1 minute, 29 seconds of the first half by Gilman's opportunistic offense propelled the No. 3-ranked Greyhounds (1-1) past Loyola, 26-14, yesterday at Gilman's Edward Brown Field.
Senior quarterback Josh Miller, in his first home start, completed three key passes in the final 2:55 of the first half as Gilman broke a 6-6 tie to open a 20-6 halftime lead.
"Josh Miller kept his wits about him in some tough situations," Gilman coach Sherm Bristow said.
Miller started the go-ahead drive with a 22-yard toss to Keith Kormanik. Then Ed Trusty took a pitchout to the left side for 14 yards before fullback Jamal Cox went 1 yard for a touchdown and a 12-6 lead with 1:29 left before the half.
A high kickoff fell between two potential Loyola return men and when Gilman recovered the ball and Loyola was assessed a personal foul, the Greyhounds had the ball at Loyola's 15-yard line with 1:10 left.
Gilman made the most of the opportunity, tacking on eight points despite a pair of passes that were underthrown.
The Dons' defense stiffened briefly, but on a fourth-and-17 situation from the 22, Miller got a big play from Trusty, who pulled in a tipped pass for another Gilman touchdown with eight seconds left in the second quarter.
"There was a lot of defensive pressure on the play, but I was looking for Eddie [Trusty] all the way and he reacted to the ball and made the play," Miller said.
Loyola defender Jeff Rhines appeared to have perfect defensive position in front of Trusty, but he swatted at the ball and barely tipped it. Trusty stayed with it and pulled it in.
After a major penalty on the first extra-point attempt had moved the ball back to the 17-yard line, Miller spotted Kormanik in the end zone and Loyola's run of bad luck continued, as Rhines, in excellent position again, swatted at the ball, but Kormanik pulled the ball in for the 20-6 lead.
"We got real lucky near the end of the first half," Bristow said, "but the good thing was that despite all our early mistakes, we held in there."
Loyola, in its season opener, had put together a pair of long first-half drives under the direction of sophomore quarterback Bill Evans and a no-huddle offense, but the Dons didn't score. Loyola finally took the lead, 6-0, on its next possession when Rhines scored from 1 yard out on the third play after Loyola tackle Grant Pivec recovered a fumble by Trusty at the Gilman 14-yard line.
Gilman, which dropped its opener last week to Washington's top-ranked DeMatha (31-12), extended the lead to 26-6 when Trusty scored his third touchdown of the game, a 3-yard run, to cap a 60-yard drive on the first series of the second half.