All season, Loyola coach Joe Brune has alternated Brad Hoag and Jeff Rhimes in the backfield. Yesterday, he started both, and they helped No. 10 Loyola claim at least a share of second place in the Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference, holding off host and No. 8 Forest Park, 21-20.
The victory kept alive Loyola's hopes of tying for first in the conference. The Dons will have to beat Calvert Hall on Thanksgiving, and need Gilman (6-1 in the conference) to lose today to McDonogh, and Poly (5-1) to lose at least one of its last two games. Loyola hasn't won the A Conference since 1983.
The Dons (6-2, 5-2) rushed for 212 yards, 91 in the final quarter, as Rhimes finished with 67 yards on nine carries, scoring one touchdown. Hoag had 12 carries for 66 yards and two touchdowns.
"We wanted to give them [Forest Park] a little different look," said Brune, who is in his 24th season. "We wanted to get off to a fast start and gain momentum because Forest Park plays with a lot of confidence on their home field."
Loyola scored on its first three possessions and built a 21-6 halftime advantage. The Foresters (7-3, 5-3) seemed to still be reeling from a 39-0 loss to Gilman Nov. 2.
But thanks to a pair of touchdowns by Obie Barnes Jr., including a 57-yard run down the left sidelines, Forest Park rallied within 21-20 with 8 minutes, 53 seconds remaining in the game. Barnes rushed for 177 yards and three touchdowns.
With under 3 minutes left, the Foresters had possession, but the Dons' defense stopped them, leaving it to their running game to run out the clock.
"The offensive line made the holes and the blocks," said Hoag, Loyola's leading rusher with 843 yards. "Scoring on our first three possessions really helped us get off to a quick start."
Hoag completed a 10-play, 63-yard drive with a 1-yard run that was followed by Rhimes' conversion run.
On the ensuing series, Hoag intercepted a pass by Forest Park's DeWayne Green. Two plays later, Rhimes went in from 9 yards, increasing Loyola's lead to 14-0.