The Loyola line took control of the line of scrimmage on its second offensive play yesterday against No. 12-ranked McDonogh and never gave ground. By the time the final whistle blew on a beautiful autumn afternoon at Hargaden Field on the Dons' campus, No. 2-ranked Loyola had forged a 55-14 victory, matching its largest offensive production of the season.
On that second play, linemen Elliott Poehlman, Matt Lentz, Ben Cranston, Terry Ford and Doug Shaw opened a hole that broke running back Terence Garvin for 60 yards and the game's first touchdown.
"That line has been doing a great job all season," Loyola coach Brian Abbott said. "They've worked hard, and they're the key to our success."
Poehlman smiled as he thought about his coach's words.
"We were relentless," he said. "Every play we did the same thing. It all came from our footwork. In practice during the week we work hard on the footwork, and when you do it right the holes open up."
With footwork that could be envied by contestants on Dancing with the Stars, Loyola's line has anchored an offense that averaged 46.8 points a game. The Dons matched their biggest offensive effort, a 55-12 victory over then-No. 8 ranked Edmondson, and improved their record to 6-0.
"We think they're one of the best two teams in the state, and we're a young rebuilding team," said McDonogh coach Dom Damico, whose Eagles got two rushing touchdowns from Bryan Ellis but had their record drop to 2-3. "We expected them to score 40-something. ... They've got no weaknesses. They run the ball well. They throw the ball well. [Quarterback Leon Kinnard] is a great threat, passing or running. ... They look like a Division III college team."
Kinnard, who ran for one touchdown and threw for two, credited Abbott for the way he prepares the team every week and said Loyola was inspired by its late teammate, Dennis Woolford, who died in a car accident 10 days ago but whose name remains on the roster.
"We played together," said Kinnard, who was 12-for-15 passing for 165 yards and ran for more than 100 yards. "You know, one of our teammates died and that brought us closer. We played for each other."