Backup quarterback Danny Cameron tossed three touchdowns passes and senior kicker Bennett Bradley nailed a 19-yard field goal with 13 seconds remaining to rally Loyola Blakefield past Mount St. Joseph, 31-28, on Saturday afternoon in Towson.
The victory sewed up the fourth seed in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference playoffs for the Dons (5-4, 2-2 conference), who will host McDonogh (5th seed, 2-7, 1-4) in the opening round next Saturday at noon, according to Loyola. Mount St. Joe (6th, 3-6, 0-5) must travel to Archbishop Spalding (3rd, 5-4, 3-2) in its postseason opener next weekend.
The Gaels had just taken a 28-14 lead on a 64-yard burst by sophomore running back Nevone McCrimmon in the third quarter before Cameron connected with fellow junior Trevor Janoskie on a 35-yard scoring strike with 5:25 left in the period to halve the deficit.
Loyola drew even on a 5-yard run by sophomore running back Damon Hazelton and Bradley's conversion kick with 1:47 remaining in the game. Cameron's 59-yard keeper up the middle set up the scoring play.
On St. Joe's next possession, Cameron intercepted a pass and returned it to the Dons' 49-yard line. A 39-yard pass from Cameron to senior tight end Cole Boozer preceded Bradley's line-drive game-winning kick that knuckled over the crossbar.
"I was more nervous on the extra point," said Bradley, a who led the Dons' volleyball team to a 3-0 sweep of Gilman on Friday night with a pair of kills in the waning moments of the third set. "It was more important to tie it up, so there was a little more pressure there."
Nerves did not appear to be a factor on the field goal.
"As soon as I hit it, I knew it was good," the Timonium resident said.
Loyola wasn't the only team playing with a new quarterback. Robert Busick started his first game of the year for the Gaels and made his presence felt immediately by teaming with wideout Kyree Calli for two scores on passes of 70 and 33 yards.
"He played well, especially in the first half," said Mt. St. Joe coach Blake Henry, a former teammate of Loyola coach Brant Hall on several MIAA championship teams with the Dons. "He gives you everything he's got. We just had some dumb penalties and didn't execute when we needed to."
Cameron, though, was the star of the show in a spectacular debut, completing eight of 19 passes for 178 yards and gained 81 yards on the ground.
"We've been watching Danny grow," said Hall. "Today, he really showed what he can do."
M 14 7 7 0 28
L 7 7 7 10 31
M-Calli 70 pass from Busick (Nelson kick)
L-O'Toole 26 pass from Cameron (Bradley kick)
M-Calli 33 pass from Busick (Nelson kick)
M-McCrimmon 10 run (Nelson kick)
L-Moran 24 pass from Cameron (Bradley kick)
M-McCrimmon 64 run (Nelson kick)
L-Hazelton 5 run (Bradley kick)
L-Bradley 19 FG