No. 16 Loyola 28, Valencia 10

VALLEY GLEN -- The Loyola football team came up with four big, game-changing plays against Valencia at L.A. Valley College on Saturday night. But Loyola coach Mike Christensen said a little nine-yard touchdown pass and dominating defense were the reasons for his team’s 28-10 win over the visting Vikings.

However the game is dissected, one player stood out: Loyola’s Eamon McOsker.

He scored two touchdowns, one on a 65-yard fumble recovery and another on a nine-yard catch. He returned the opening kickoff 66 yards to the Valencia 33-yard line and set up his team’s first touchdown.

McOsker had a complete game, coming up with big plays on offense, defense and special teams. His touchdown catch in the third quarter impressed Christensen the most.

“That catch was the best play of the night,” Christensen said. “I think he’s our best football player. We’re glad he’s on our side.”

On a night when there weren’t that many great plays, McOsker came up with the most. Both teams played a great defensive game. Valencia (2-3) gave up only 74 yards of offense to Loyola in the first half. Loyola (5-1) held the Vikings to 107 yards of offense at halftime. But the Cubs, the No. 16 team in the ESPNLA.com prep football Top 25 rankings, went into halftime with a 14-3 lead.

The difference in the first half was the opening kickoff return by McOsker and two short touchdown runs by Cameron Walker. The first kickoff return resulted in a four-play, 33-yard drive that was capped by a four-yard touchdown run by Walker.

Walker scored his second touchdown on a one-yard run in the second quarter. He only rushed for 23 yards in eight carries in the first half and didn’t have a single carry in the second half.

Valencia’s only points in the first half came on a 19-yard field goal by Brett Schreiber in the second quarter. Valencia drove down to the Loyola two-yard line but couldn’t punch the football in for a touchdown.

“Defensively, we dominated the game,” Christensen said. “Offensively, there’s a lot of plays that didn’t work because of penalties.”

Neither team scored in the third quarter, but Loyola was on the move again as the third quarter winded down. Quarterback Nick Cotton hit Kodi Whitfield with a 59-yard bomb that gave Loyola a first and goal on the Valencia nine-yard line as the third quarter expired.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Cotton hit McOsker for a touchdown to give Loyola a 21-3 lead.

Valencia had one last gasp to try and get back in the game. Grayson Largman recovered a fumble by McOsker, one of the senior’s only mistakes of the game, and gave Valencia the ball on the Loyola 25-yard line with about eight minutes to play.

But Valencia coughed the ball right back up to Loyola on the ensuing play. McOsker scooped up the fumbled ball in the Valencia backfield and ran it 65 yards for a touchdown.

Valencia’s only touchdown of the game came with 2:28 to play in the fourth quarter. Junior running back Jake Solley scored on a two-yard run to cut the lead to 18 points. Solley came into the game when starting running back Cody Anciano injured his leg in the third quarter.

“When you get your chance, you just got to show up,” Solley said.

He finished with 79 yards in 16 carries, all in the second half. Anciano had 88 yards in 21 carries and Valencia rushed for 180 yards as a team.

Both teams played well defensively. Loyola gave up 310 yards of total offense to Valencia. The Vikings held Loyola to 158 yards of offense and 38 yards rushing.