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Loyola Takes a New Approach

Team known for being a 'run-first' club gets a little tricky and beats Lakewood, 20-16, to go on to Division I quarterfinals.

November 19, 2005|Eric Sondheimer | Times Staff Writer

For the 20th consecutive season, Los Angeles Loyola has earned a spot in the Southern Section Division I quarterfinals. But the way the Cubs pulled out their 20-16 first-round victory over Lakewood Friday night reinforced the dramatic change in offensive philosophy taking place under first-year Coach Jeff Kearin.

It took a 35-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Henry Burge to receiver Taylor Joseph on a play-action fake reverse with 57 seconds left to rally the Cubs (7-4) to victory.

"It was fake everything," Kearin said.

For 29 years under Coach Steve Grady, Loyola was a run first, grind-it-out-on-the-ground team. Even though the Cubs received 213 yards rushing from backup tailback Russell Oka on Friday, Kearin's insistence on a no-huddle, one-back offensive strategy left Loyola armed and ready when it needed to pass.

"We just want to have options and answers for whatever they throw at us," Kearin said.

Lakewood (8-3) was in position to win after moving the ball from its own 14 to the Loyola 19 and getting a 37-yard field goal from Everado Chavez with 1:14 left to take a 16-13 lead.

With Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Cardinal Roger Mahony watching from the Loyola sideline, Reynolds Holmes returned the ensuing kickoff 60 yards to the Lakewood 35. That allowed Kearin, a former Cal State Northridge coach, to try a little trickery, and it led to Burge finding a wide open Joseph for the go-ahead touchdown.

"It's not like Grady didn't know what the forward pass was, but Kearin's offense is more of a balanced attack," Burge said.

Lakewood frantically tried to move the ball, and the Lancers reached the Loyola 28 with five seconds left. On the final play of the game, quarterback Jeff Fischer's desperation pass went off the hands of receiver Anthony Pigee at the two-yard line.

It was a frustrating first half for Loyola, which out-gained Lakewood, 230 yards to 92, but had to settle for a 6-6 halftime tie on field goals of 21 and 36 yards by Joe MacMillan. Oka gained 132 yards in 14 carries.

Lakewood did little on offense except for a 43-yard run by John Barnett on a draw play that set up a two-yard touchdown plunge by Justin Robertson in the second quarter.

Robertson gave Lakewood a 13-6 lead on its opening possession of the third quarter, catching a seven-yard touchdown pass from Fischer. But Oka, playing for starter Chad Peppars, who was ejected from last week's regular-season finale, tied the score with 8:09 left on a seven-yard run.

"For Loyola [fans], it's absolutely bizarre," Kearin said of the Cubs' new offensive philosophy. "But in the world of the Harts and Canyons, it's pretty standard stuff."

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