There have been times this season when Loyola High hasn't looked to crisp on offense, and there have been times when the Dons have looked great.
A prime example was yesterday's game against Poly. In the first half, No. 11 Loyola never got closer than Poly's 35 on five possessions.
But in the second half, the Dons (2-1-1, 2-0) put together two sustained touchdown drives to hand No. 8 Poly (1-2, 0-2) a 14-6 loss in a Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference game at Loyola.
"At times today we looked great," said Loyola coach Joe Brune, whose team is in a three-way tie for first with City and Calvert Hall. "At times we've looked great this season. We just can't put it all together. When we get it all together, we will be OK."
The Dons rolled up 154 yards rushing in the second half, with backs Brad Hoag and Jeff Zielinski doing most of the damage behind solid blocking by linemen Dave Bright, Bob Mezzadra, Dave Truax, Grant Pivec and John Conrad.
"We were making a lot of mistakes in the first half," said Brune, in his 25th season at Loyola. "But our offensive line was very confident. They wanted to run the ball. They didn't want to do anything but run the ball, and that's what we do best."
After a scoreless first half that included a goal-line stand by the Dons, Loyola began the second half with a 14-play 80-yard drive that took 6 minutes, 53 seconds and culminated with Hoag scoring from a yard out. Chris Ginter added the PAT.
The speedy Hoag sparked that drive with seven carries for 50 yards. He finished with 23 carries for 136 yards.
But Poly answered quickly, thanks to an 79-yard kickoff return by Eric Gay to the Dons' 2. Quarterback Andrew Pecora scored on a 1-yard run on second down to make it 7-6. Pecora's run for the conversion failed. That would be Poly's only possession in the third quarter.
Loyola took the ensuing kickoff and went 74 yards on 15 plays for a score. Ginter caught a 9-yard pass from quarterback Billy Evans with 8:37 left in the game for the score. Ginter added the PAT to make it 14-6.
Zielinski keyed the drive with five consecutive carries for 30 yards to take the ball to the 8 before Brian Oates lost a yard on second down, setting up the touchdown pass on third down. Zielinski finished with 10 carries for 52 yards.
"We talked at halftime about our passing game and how it wasn't working," said Bright, a 6-foot, 275-pound senior. "The line got together and we said we can run the ball. We just beared down and ran it."
Loyola also benefited in the second half from the absence of linebacker/running back Derrick Odoms, Poly's best defensive player and best blocking back. He injured his right knee late in the first half making a tackle and did not return.