Fair Park sprinted out to a 20-0 lead early in the second quarter then held off a valiant rally by Loyola as the Indians beat the Flyers 20-9 in District 1-4A action Thursday night at Independence Stadium.
“I thought when we got out 20-0 that I was going to be able to relax for once this season,” said Fair Park head coach Mike Greene, who’s Indians improved to 6-2 overall and 3-2 in district play. “You have to take your hat off to coach (Alan) Carter and his staff over there with Loyola. They’re very young and so close. I’m just glad we were finally able to finish a game and get the win.”
Fair Park quarterback Se’Derrick Smith threw for one touchdown and ran for another as the Indians scored on their first three possessions. Smith seemed to dodge the nagging injuries that have plagued him this season, and was about to string together several positive plays in a row in the second half to chew time off the clock with Fair Park hanging onto the lead.
“We got out quick, but that fatigue factor set in about halfway through,” said Smith, who finished with 151 yards through the air and 41 yards on the ground. “We fought through it and found a way to win this one. Our defense stepped up (Thursday) night in a big way.”
Junior receiver Robert Rochell also took some of the heat off his quarterback, posting 96 yards rushing to go with 39 receiving. His potentially back-breaking 78-yard punt return was called back for holding.
“I just wanted to go out (Thursday) and make plays,” said Rochell. “We’ve been working on a lot of different things in practice, and (Thursday) we were able to make some of those plays work.”
Despite 14 penalties for 123 yards, Fair Park did not have a turnover.
The Indians defense, led by two sacks from senior Christopher Terrell, bent but would not break. Three field goals from sophomore Josh Hawboldt — tying a school record with Art Carmody — were the only points the Flyers could manage, and two early Loyola turnovers set up 14 Fair Park points.
“They scored touchdowns and we scored field goals, it’s as simple as that,” said Carter. “They have a lot of athletes and a lot of speed on that team over there. We did some good things, but we made those early mistakes. It’s just too hard to overcome those negative plays against a team with as much speed as Fair Park.”
Loyola (1-7, 0-5) made a game of it in the second half, holding Smith and Rochell in check for the most part. The Flyers defense, led by Charles Hawes and Rodney Rollins, held the Indians to just over 100 yards of offense after halftime, while Ray Shepherd and Tamerick Gilyard combined to rush for over 100 yards in the second half.
Fair Park returns to Independence Stadium next Friday night for a key District 1-4A showdown with Wooodlawn, while Loyola welcomes North DeSoto to Messmer Stadium.