Homecoming couldn't have been sweeter for St. Mary's football team.
In its first matchup against perennial Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference power Loyola, the No. 12 Saints showed that they belong among the conference's best, as they defeated the Dons, 17-7, at Anne Arundel Community College.
"Last year when we found out that we were going to play Loyola for homecoming, I was like 'oh shoot.' But once the season
started, these guys really started playing with a lot of confidence, and that confidence had been building all through the season," said St. Mary's coach Brad Best.
The win gave St. Mary's a 6-2 overall mark, 2-2 in the conference. Loyola fell to 2-5 and 1-2. McDonogh's 54-6 win over Calvert Hall yesterday knocked St. Mary's and Loyola out of the running for the league title.
Jason Lilly keyed the Saints' offense with 140 yards on 33 carries. The senior running back rolled up 110 of those yards on 26 carries in the second half.
He capped the drive with a 5-yard burst to give his team a 13-0 advantage. Mark Kiefer's second of two extra-point kicks made the score 14-0.
"Jason was held to just 47 yards last week [in a 10-7 over then No. 15 St. Paul's] but he told me that he was ready to carry the ball this week, and he proved it tonight," said Best.
Kiefer added a 38-yard field goal with 9:39 left in the game to give his team a 17-0 cushion.
The Dons scored with five minutes left in the game. Brian Nicholas (8-for-18, 115 yards) hooked up with tight end Mike Dogiewicz on an 18-yard touchdown pass. Kevin Kaiser kicked the extra point.
The Saints' defense scored the first touchdown less than two minutes into the game.
Defensive back Ryan Hughes picked up a fumble by Reggie Boyce at the 31-yard line and raced into the end zone to give the Saints a 6-0 lead. Kiefer's extra point put the Saints up by seven.
Loyola's best chance to score in the opening half occurred just before halftime. Keith Euker's interception and 3-yard return put the Dons on St. Mary's 42-yard line with one minute left.
Nicholas hit Karl Zeller with a 21-yard pass on second down, then hit Kevin Kaiser for another 9 yards. Reggie Boyce carried twice for 10 yards to get the ball to the Saints' 2 before time expired.