Amid a celebration of hugs and high-fives, Loyola coach Joe Brune calmly put things into perspective.
"From here on, every game is a big game," Brune said.
But No. 12 Loyola's 10-0 upset of top-ranked Poly (4-1) at Poly's R.W. Lumsden Stadium yesterday may be the biggest.
With its first victory over Poly since 1983, Loyola (4-1) ended Poly's 14-game winning streak -- the area's longest -- and created a logjam at the top of the Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference standings. The Dons and Cardinal Gibbons are each 4-1 in the league, followed by Forest Park (3-1), Gilman (3-1) and the Engineers (2-1).
"We don't beat Poly that often. You could count the times on one hand," said Brune, whose team lost to Poly, 34-0 and 42-0, in 1988 and 1989, respectively.
Brune, in his 24th year as Loyola's head coach, praised Brad Hoag, who rushed for 107 yards and the game's lone touchdown on 21 carries, and intercepted a pass.
"We have a good offensive line and a tailback [Hoag] that's way above average," Brune said.
Loyola's defensive effort yesterday also was above average. The Dons limited Poly to 127 yards of total offense and six first downs in the game, forcing four turnovers and recording three sacks. Poly had just 4 total yards and no first downs in the first half.
"Our defense was the key," said Brune. "I can't really single anyone out. It was a team effort. To keep Poly off the scoreboard is doing one hell of a job."
Said Poly coach Augie Waibel: "We got the crap kicked out of us. Loyola was well-prepared, and we were as flat as we could be, but I don't want to take anything away from Loyola. They deserved to win."
The strong level of competition this season may have caught up with Poly. The Engineers had defeated Allegany, Forest Park, Gilman and Salesianum of Delaware before yesterday's loss.
"We had four tough ballgames," Waibel said. "You hope the kids don't let down, but we just didn't execute offensively. Our defense kept us in the game."
Poly's defense, which held Loyola to 177 yards overall, forced the Dons to punt on their first two possessions, but the Engineers gave the ball right back when Albert Tyler fumbled after being sacked by Reggie Thornton, and Mike Boyle recovered for the Dons at Poly's 27-yard line.
Loyola got as close as the Engineers 16 on the drive, before settling for a 30-yard field goal by Chris Ginter to take a 3-0 lead with 9 minutes, 37 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
The Engineers seemed to be gaining momentum on their opening drive in the second half, but another turnover proved costly. Frank Johnson fumbled, and Loyola's Grant Pivec recovered at the Dons 30.
The Dons moved the ball 70 yards in eight plays, a drive that was culminated by Hoag's 1-yard touchdown run with 6:38 remaining in the third quarter.
But Hoag wasn't through making big plays, as he intercepted Tyler's pass on Poly's next series and returned it 35 yards to the Engineers 20.
Poly's defense held Loyola scoreless the rest of the game, but its offense continued to self-destruct. Early in the fourth quarter, Johnson again fumbled in Loyola territory, and Colin Brune, the coach's son, recovered at the Dons 49.
Poly got the ball back on its 35 with 4:00 left. The Engineers moved the ball to Loyola's 9, but Tyler then threw three consecutive incompletions and Poly lost the ball on downs.