GLENDALE — Alemany High players were hurting deep inside, some even crying.
Loyola players felt elation.
This was the aftermath of a stunning turn of events that left quarterback Matt Ware of Loyola proclaiming, "That was the greatest comeback in my life."
Down by 21 points at halftime with its offense doing nothing and its defense on life support, the Cubs arose and came away with a 26-21 victory Saturday night in a Del Rey League opener at Glendale High.
The Cubs (5-3) scored touchdowns on four consecutive possessions in the second half to wipe out a 21-0 deficit and leave the Indians (6-2) in disarray.
Ware, a 6-foot-3 junior who figures to be one of Southern California's most recruited players next season because of his athletic ability, completed all six of his passes in the second half for 145 yards and one touchdown.
"We challenged them at halftime," Coach Steve Grady of Loyola said. "We were so disgusted. It looked like we were a dead bunch. I'm [usually] an optimist, but I thought we were in trouble."
But the warning signs of an Alemany letdown were visible for everyone to see. Players were talking to fans in the stands at halftime, as if they thought the Cubs were done, too.
Then Ware guided the Cubs on an 81-yard, 10-play scoring drive to start the second half, and Loyola never stopped taking it to the Indians. Missed tackles and missed opportunities left the Indians with a helpless feeling.
Loyola took the lead with 4:08 left on Taylor Williams' 18-yard touchdown run.
Alemany got the ball back, hoping its high-powered offense could produce a comeback victory. The Indians didn't offer the slightest threat. They had to punt after three plays and were forced to accept a bitter defeat.
"We've responded well to adversity in the past," Coach Jim Bonds said. "Hopefully, we can come back."
Justin Wesson of Loyola rushed for 123 yards in 12 carries and scored touchdowns in the second half on an 86-yard reception from Ware and a 39-yard run.
Quarterback Casey Clausen of Alemany completed only two of five passes for 16 yards in the second half and finished 10 of 18 for 117 yards.
De'Andre Scott of Alemany rushed for 131 yards in 22 carries and scored two first-half touchdowns.
Loyola received a boost in the fourth quarter from safety Greg Kavulich, a junior who lives in West Hills. Kavulich twice sacked Clausen on blitzes to disrupt the Indians' attack.
The first half was a demonstration of domination by Alemany. Whether relying on the passing of Clausen or the running of Scott, the Indians were unpredictable and effective.
Alemany out-gained the Cubs, 200-75. If not for two missed field goals, their 21-0 halftime lead would have been larger.
Scott scored on runs of 19 and three yards in the first quarter and safety Frank Geraty returned an interception 14 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.
But Ware, who had two passes intercepted in the first half, started to break out of the pocket and make plays.
"Ware is a heck of an athlete, a guy who can make things happen when [the other team] breaks down," Grady said.