Last night, Westminster High School celebrated its 100th year with a football game.
To Loyola coach Joe Brune, the game must have felt 100 years long.
For the No. 15 Owls used an opportunistic defense and took advantage of six Loyola turnovers (four interceptions, two fumbles) to defeat the No. 10 Dons, 14-7, before an overflow crowd.
The Owls (2-0) withstood a furious Loyola rally at the end, using an interception by Wesley Howard at the goal line as the clock expired to seal the victory.
Mike Alfone of Loyola (1-1) led all rushers with 137 yards on 23 carries. The Dons out-gained the Owls 269-134 on the ground and, in the second half, held Westminster to 27 yards and one first down.
"We really wanted this one," said Howard, who was also Westminster's leading rusher with 53 yards on six carries. "[Our] seniors dug deep and held it together at the end. We said in the huddle that we had to stop them, and we did."
The Owls took the lead early in the second quarter, using good field position to drive 42 yards on six plays. Brad Durden's 1-yard run with 3: 47 left in the first quarter capped the drive.
After forcing Loyola to punt three plays later, the Owls took over at their own 30 and engineered a 10-play drive to extend the lead to 14-0. The drive was led by Howard, who accounted for 23 yards and scored the touchdown on a 5-yard run with 10: 33 left in the first half.
Loyola moved the ball well on the next series. Starting on the Dons' 40-yard line, Alfone carried on nine of the 11 plays as Loyola drove to Westminster's 15. But a holding penalty put the Dons back on the 27, where the drive died when the Owls' John Fitzgerald picked up a fumble by Dons quarterback Brennan Creaney.
On their next series, the Dons drove from their own 20 to the Westminster 15, but the Owls' Nick Stonesifer ended that thrust by picking off a pass by Creaney just before halftime.
The second half seemed to start out great for the Dons. After stopping the Owls, Alfone took the kickoff 94 yards for an apparent touchdown, only to see a clipping penalty cancel the points.
Loyola got on the board late in the fourth quarter, driving 66 yards to cut the score to 14-7 on a 5-yard run by Alfone.
"We made a lot of mistakes," said Brune. "It seems like every time we got going, a penalty or a turnover killed the drive."
Westminster coach Scott Tobias said the game was important for his team.
"We grew a little today," he said. "We've had to deal with a lot of things to try to get this program turned around, and tonight was a big step. My kids showed a lot of character tonight."