Loyola hammers St. Joe Victory secures share of league title for Dons

November 09, 1997|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The battle for the MIAA A Conference championship, and maybe the area's No. 1 ranking, will come down to Loyola and Calvert Hall.

The No. 1 Dons clinched at least a share of the league title by defeating host and No. 12 Mount St. Joseph, 30-7, yesterday.

Loyola can win the title outright if the Dons beat Calvert Hall in their annual Thanksgiving Day meeting at Memorial Stadium. The Cardinals (2-1 league), who beat St. Mary's yesterday, can tie for the title with a victory.

In the four-year history of the MIAA, there has not been an outright A Conference champion. But Loyola (7-1) appears to be in no mood to share, outscoring league opponents by a combined margin of 81-28 in its three victories.

Appearing listless heading into the locker room with a 14-7 halftime lead, Loyola shut out Mount St. Joseph (6-4, 2-2) in the second half, using touchdowns from Pat Muth and Tom Melanson and a 42-yard field goal by Matt Hart.

"I don't know what was wrong with the team at halftime; maybe we were a little uptight," said Loyola coach Joe Brune. "We felt that we could move the ball, so we talked about it and did what we thought we could do."

What Loyola was able to do was move the ball behind the arm and legs of quarterback Brant Hall. In the second half, the six-foot, 190-pound senior accounted for 122 yards.

On the opening drive of the second half, Hall was 5-for-5 for 71 yards, including a 29-yard strike to Muth with 6: 19 remaining in the third quarter, extending the Dons' lead to 21-7.

"Brant Hall made three great plays and that's why I think he's the best player around," said Gaels coach Mike Working, whose team shared the league title in his first three seasons.

Loyola's defense set up the final two scores. An interception by Dan Workmeister led to the 45-yard field goal by Hart with 7: 54 left. Dan Fink, who also recovered a fumble, then intercepted a pass by Andy Michalowicz, setting up a five-play, 24-yard drive that ended with Melanson scoring from the 1.

"The loss [to Mount St. Joseph] last year stuck with us, especially when they took off their pads and their shirts said 'Respect,' " said Hall. "We made a point that wasn't going to happen again."

Hall put Loyola up 7-0 early, rolling to his right and scoring on a 6-yard run with 9: 12 remaining in the opening quarter. Then after a bizzare series during which Mount St. Joseph was called for four false start penalties, Keon Burley partially blocked a punt, giving the Dons a first and goal at the six.

The Dons needed only two plays before Hall rolled to his left and hit Rick Schultz with a six-yard touchdown pass, extending Loyola's lead to 14-0 with 6: 08 remaining in the second quarter.

Pub Date: 11/09/97

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