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Third Quarter the Charm for Loara

Prep football: Saxons use 21-point period to overpower Kennedy, 38-7, and wrap up their second consecutive Empire League title.


Rudy Acosta's ankle was only sprained, but he went to get it checked out anyway--even though his team trailed at halftime.

"I got back at the end of the third quarter, and we were ahead, 24-7," Acosta said. "I was in shock. . . . Maybe I should sit out more."

That wouldn't be a good idea for one of the county's top defenders and most dangerous receivers, but it illustrates how impressive Loara was in the second half of its Empire League showdown Thursday at Glover Stadium. The Saxons scored 21 points in the third quarter and overwhelmed Kennedy, 38-7, in front of 3,000 to defend its league title.

"They pounded us," Kennedy Coach Mitch Olson said.

Billy Chavez was the beneficiary of Loara's physical play. He rushed 33 times for 255 yards and scored three times behind the blocking of Alex Khojikian, Ivan Molina, Joey Diersing, Jarred Ellison and Nigel Holton.

Loara, which lost four of its first five games against a series of tough opponents, finished the regular season 6-4, 5-0 in league. Kennedy (7-3, 3-2) lost its final two games and goes into the Southern Section Division VI playoffs next week as the league's No. 3 entry.

"When Rudy went down, a lot of people had to step up," said Chavez, who has rushed for 767 yards and 11 touchdowns in the last three games and has 1,410 yards this season.

Acosta, who got his eighth interception in the first quarter, was injured on Loara's only scoring drive of the first half; it yielded Noe Mondragon's 20-yard field goal.

Kennedy countered with a six-play, 65-yard drive highlighted by a 35-yard halfback pass by Alex Vasquez to Rhema McKnight. Kelvin Beatty's one-yard run gave Kennedy a 7-3 lead with 1 minute 53 seconds left in the half.

Then came the third quarter and the most important--and perhaps disappointing--five minutes of Kennedy's season.

The Fighting Irish got a hand on the kickoff at the Loara 35, but came up empty. With Acosta at the hospital, quarterback Ryan Gusman immediately hit Ruben Hernandez in stride for a 34-yard gain, and five plays later, Chavez scored from four yards.

Two plays later, Loara's Minh Nguyen made the first of his two interceptions, returning the ball 24 yards to the Kennedy 20-yard line. Chavez gained three yards, and Gusman scrambled for a 17-yard touchdown and a 17-7 lead.

Chavez added a five-yard scoring run about four minutes later, and Acosta arrived in time to watch the Saxons put the icing on their championship cake, a one-yard run by Chavez, then a 19-yard interception return by Tony Robledo with 12 seconds remaining.

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