After being overwhelmed in its last two games against Gilman by a combined 119-14 score, Loyola handled the challenge presented by the No. 1 Greyhounds (6-1) much better when the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference rivals met Saturday afternoon at Hargaden Field in Towson.
While the Dons (3-3) never really seriously threatened to win the game, this time they remained competitive throughout the 27-14 Gilman victory.
"All you have to do is look at their game film," Gilman coach Biff Poggi said. "They have talent and speed — and are very well coached. One thing I'm sure of. Nobody will out-coach Loyola."
The Dons held the powerful Gilman offense in check in the first quarter, stopping a deep Greyhound drive by forcing a fumble that junior Alex Hunt recovered at the Loyola 5-yard line.
Although Loyola was unable to move the ball on the ensuing possession, and Gilman started its next drive with terrific field position at the Loyola 33, the Greyhounds were held to a 24-yard field goal by Trevor Wey to take a 3-0 lead early in the second quarter.
The first of five turnovers — a 14-yard scamper into the end zone with a recovered fumble by Gilman sophomore Melvin Keihn — increased the Greyhound lead to 10-0.
A 6-yard bolt up the middle by senior Cyrus Jones that produced another Gilman score with 6:58 to go before halftime was countered by Loyola's first touchdown on a 4-yard pass from junior quarterback Jake Clise to senior wideout Deemer Class two minutes later.
With the visitors ahead 17-7, Gilman added seven more points on senior fullback Kenneth Goins' 14-yard power blast up the middle late in the third quarter and Wey stretched the margin on a 27-yard field goal at the 1:36 mark of the third period.
Loyola tore down the field in its final possession, covering 69 yards in seven plays, capped by a 2-yard touchdown plunge by senior Kacy Kapinos. Class (16-yard reception), Kapinos (23-yard run) and senior wideout Jordan Floyd (28-yard reception) made big plays during that span.
"After getting destroyed the last two seasons (by Gilman), this is the best we've played defense since I've been here," said Class, a Duke lacrosse recruit who also plays defensive back.
Poggi emphatically backed up that statement, noting that last week's emotional 28-21 win over Calvert Hall isn't the reason his team struggled at times against Loyola.
"Physically, we got crushed," he said. "We were at the top of our game, and they just drilled us."