With illness, injuries depleting roster, ICCP shut out by Loyola Academy

Loyola was ready for a heavyweight boxing match Friday night. But when the Ramblers got to the ring, it felt like the other boxer didn't show.

The Ramblers worked all week in anticipation for a tough test matchup against IC Catholic that pinned the defending Class 8A champion Loyola against the defending Class 3A champion Knights. But IC Catholic didn't play nine of its playmakers because of various injuries and flu going around the team, according to Knights coach Bill Krefft.

That didn't stop Loyola from putting on a show, using all three phases of the game to pick up a 47-0 win.

"It was a little disappointing for sure, because we were game planning against their guys, they had a lot of good players out there," Loyola cornerback JT Kurtzweil said. "To not play them was a little disappointing to see, but it was good to get guys out there who don't play as much when we starting putting up more points on the board."

Loyola (7-0) didn't waste any time setting the tone for the game early by using all three phases. Jack McGrath intercepted the third play of the game and returned it for a touchdown to give the Ramblers an early 7-0 lead with 10:54 left in the first quarter.

Loyola then drove from its own 28 yard line and scored when quarterback Ryan Fitzgerald ran in for a 13-yard touchdown to give the Ramblers a 14-0 lead with 8:33 left in the first quarter. Then the special teams got involved, with Loyola blocking the Knights punt near the goal line and Jimmy McGovern jumping on the ball to score and give his team a 21-0 lead with 5:58 left in the first quarter.

"Once we heard that they weren't going to be playing any of their guys, it just motivated us more," Fitzgerald said. "We don't want to drive out here in the cold for an hour on a Friday to play nobody and that's what they gave us. After the pick, after the blocked punt, the energy rose on our sideline."

Finley Miller scored on a 2-yard run with 14.7 seconds left in the first quarter to give the Ramblers a 28-0 lead. Then Kurtzweil intercepted a pass on the Knights' next possession and returned it for a touchdown with 9:54 left in the second quarter to make it a 35-0 Loyola lead. Lucas Holubar came in at quarterback and threw a five-yard touchdown to David Pezza with 6:36 left in the third quarter and Devion Johnson rushed in for a 5-yard scored in the final minutes of the game.

Fitzgerald completed four of his five passes for 45 yards while Holubar completed six of his eight passes for 74 yards. Drew MacPherson added 52 rushing yards in the first quarter.

Although it wasn't the matchup they were expecting, Kurtzweil was proud the Ramblers played a complete game in the blowout.

"Three phases of the game are important," Kurtzweil said. "That's why the score of the game was what it was."

Willy Bryk came in for the Knights and completed two of his seven pass attempts for 12 yards and rushed for 13.

IC Catholic (5-2) played without Iowa-commit KJ Parker, starting quarterback Dennis Mandala and JP Schmidt, to name a few players. Krefft said that all the players missing were dealing with different injuries that prevented them from playing. He wasn't sure whether the injuries would keep his playmakers from the remaining two games of the regular season, saying they'll know more on Tuesday.

"There wasn't a choice I got to make or an opportunity that I got to choose," Krefft said. "Sometimes when you have a roster of 32 and you're down nine guys and a lot of them play both ways, there's not much you can do. So we brought up some younger guys to try and fill in spots and go after them."

The Knights will play De La Salle on Friday while the Ramblers will host Benet on Oct. 14.

Loyola is also making sure to not look past Benet with Mount Carmel lurking in Week 9. While the Ramblers look at the Caravan as a huge game, they know they need to focus on the Redwings first.

"We're not focused on Mount Carmel," Fitzgerald said. "It's Benet this week."

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