It came down to the numbers on Saturday in Wilmette as Loyola dealt Oswego a 22-0 loss in the second round of the Class 8A state playoffs.
The Panthers (10-1) threw one interception and fumbled five times, recovering three. Loyola wasn’t blemish free. The Ramblers had one interception. But winning the turnover battle six to one was enough for a shutout victory.
The dagger came with 50 seconds remaining in the third quarter when senior defensive back Jake Gonzalez leaped into the air, grabbed an interception and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown to make it 22-0.
“I think the pick six was the end of it, the turning point,” Loyola coach John Holecek said. “It was a total team win. They made more mistakes than we did. We have a couple that we need to clean up, but it was a good win.”
Three is a big one number for the Ramblers. They have three losses, all in the Catholic League. They lost to Mount Carmel in Week 3. All three losses are to conference opponents and all three are still alive in the state playoffs.
“Brother Rice took it to us and we had a couple injuries,” Holecek said. “But we could have beaten Montini and Mount Carmel, so we’re not that bad. People didn’t give us a lot of credit. And we’re getting better. We’re not the biggest team but we’re playing at a high intensity right now.”
The Ramblers (8-3) weren’t bigger than the Panthers, nor were they decidedly faster, especially compared to Oswego receiver Jamal Fomby Jr. and running back Charles Coleman.
“Michael Gavric is running really well for us right now so that adds another dimension,” Holecek said.
The Ramblers face Maine South in the quarterfinals next weekend.
“I don’t make the brackets, we just play whoever we play,” Holecek said.
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