Sem Can’t Hold Halftime Lead Over Loyola Blakefield
KINGSTON — Saturday couldn’t have started any worse for Loyola Blakefield.
The team’s journey from Maryland was bumpy as the Dons didn’t arrive at Wyoming Seminary until 30 minutes prior to kick. And, the Blue Knights didn’t waste any time jumping out on their guests, leading by seven after one quarter.
Luckily for the Dons, halftime came just in the nick of time, and quarterback Jordan Moore was able to get his legs underneath him.
Moore rushed for 77 yards in the second half, Adrian Russell crossed the goal line twice and Loyola Blakefield was able to wear down Wyoming Seminary, 24-14, at Nesbitt Stadium.
“I just had to calm down and trust my teammates,” said Moore, the receiver-turned-quarterback who finished with 162 yards of total offense. “I had to take my time, and just run the offense. That line, they are great. You can’t say enough good things about them. They really responded in the second half.”
Really, it was the worst possible scenario for the Dons — traffic snarls on the highway heading to Luzerne County combined with a hot start by the Blue Knights.
Seminary took advantage of a muffed punt to set up a short field at the LB 19. Two plays later, Prince Hall rumbled off right side for the 19-yard score.
Hall, a Florida native, wasn’t done in the opening quarter – taking a kick 94 yards to the house as Sem held a 14-7 lead after one quarter.
“We left as early as we could to get a good meal in, and that delayed us a little bit, and then, we hit some traffic,” Loyola Blakefield head coach Anthony Zehyoue said. “We always talk about things we can’t control, and that we can control our response to those things. First half, we were sluggish. At halftime, we were able to sit down, breathe and really settle into the game.”
Halftime came, and a new fire was lit under the Dons.
The offense went more toward a read-option look, and Moore flourished. After rushing for 18 yards in the opening half, the Dons ran for 140 over the final 24 minutes and scored on three of five offensive possessions.
It was no more evident than on the team’s first series in the second half where Loyola Blakefield strung a back-breaking 10-play, 89-yard drive. The Dons converted four first downs, and capped it off with Russell’s first TD — a 5-yard burst through the heart of Seminary’s defense to knot the score at 14-14.
“We talked about pride because I don’t think we were playing with pride in the first half,” Zehyoue said. “We really weren’t playing good mental football. I know it sounds very cliché, but in football, it comes down to who wants it more. It’s very true. We decided in the second half that we wanted to fight and compete. We challenged our offensive line, and we personally called them out at halftime. And they chose to respond.”
Seminary, playing without several starters on the offensive and defensive lines, struggled in the trenches. The team only had one first down in the second half as the Dons held the Blue Knights to just one yard of total offense, sacking quarterback Cooper Heisey three times.
“Injuries are part of the game, and we can’t make any excuses,” Seminary head coach Jim Anderson said. “As with every team, the next person has to step up and contribute. We were able to adjust some people in the fourth quarter, and I wish that I was able to make those moves sooner. I give our kids so much credit because they fought their tails off.”
Russell’s second score gave the Dons their first lead of the game, 21-14, with 10:02 left, and Loyola got some much-needed insurance as senior kicker Caleb Sanders drilled a 43-yard field goal with at least 10 yards to spare with less than three minutes left.
“Our kids left everything out there. Six weeks ago, most of these kids didn’t even know each other,” Anderson said. “We never backed down. We didn’t win, but from what I saw in that locker room, I’m anxious to get back to work, get back in the weight room and see where we can improve from the film.”