Marina High School came into Friday night's Big Five Conference Southern Section playoff opener against Loyola held together with adhesive tape and Ace bandages. Loyola left much the same way.
But, in the end, it was Loyola that limped into the second round with a 7-0 victory in front of 3,200 at Westminster High School. The Cubs took advantage of a Marina fumble in the first quarter to take a one-touchdown lead, then made it hold up by recording their fifth shutout of the season.
Anthony Holly recovered Marina running back Kevin Magula's fumble at the Viking 29 to set up a 3-yard scoring run by Loyola quarterback George Paton with 1:02 left in the first quarter. The teams spent the remainder of the game bruising and abusing each other until Loyola had ended Marina's winning streak at five games, eliminating the Sunset League champions.
Marina fullback Sean Magula was injured in the first game of the season, and the Vikings proceeded to lose five straight games without him. He returned in time for Marina's league opener, and helped the Vikings go 5-0 and win their first outright league title.
But Magula reinjured the ankle in last week's regular-season finale, and was used only sparingly against Loyola. Couple that with a knee injury to Marina quarterback Rick Vanderriet suffered near the end of the first half and you all but cripple the Vikings' offense.
Both Magula and Vanderriet were able to tape and play. Magula even managed 68 yards in 14 carries. But their presense wasn't enough against a Loyola defense that doesn't seem to require many points to win.
The Cubs lost starting running back Marco Jones to a knee injury late in the first half, and saw Paton get shaken up in the third quarter before returning in the fourth. The senior quarterback passed for 90 yards and rushed for 16, including 3 of the biggest, to give Loyola all the offense it really needed.
Loyola Coach Steve Grady is facing a serious attrition problem on offense, and admits most of Loyola's playoff hopes rest on its defense. "How long they can keep it up, I don't know," Grady said. "But I'm just happy to be going to the second week."
Marina Coach Chris Ramsey saw his team fumble five times, losing two, including the turnover that proved critical. "Our fumble put them in a short drive situation," Ramsey said. "We didn't want to do that. We thought our defense was playing well, but we just gave them that field position."
Marina had a chance at a last-gasp score with 2:38 to play, starting on its 11-yard line after a Loyola punt. Magula carries of 15 ands 12 yards and a 15-yard pass completion from Vanderriet to Ben LeFrancois enabled the Vikings to move to the Loyola 37 with less than a minute remaining, but that was as far as the Loyola defense would bend.
"They've got a great defense," Ramsey said. "Good gosh, check their record."