Loyola Sacred Heart danced in the end zone all night on Friday as the Rams capped off their homecoming week in style, blasting Plains 56-0 in a Class B nonconference game at Rollin Field.
Loyola outgained the visitors 10-fold as Ram starters racked up close to 300 yards in just the first half before the freshman team relieved them early in the third quarter. Even against backup defenders for much of the game, the Horsemen managed just 33 total yards of offense.
The Rams (3-0) looked a cut above the competition from the opening kickoff, forcing a three-and-out before a swift score, their first of eight trips to the end zone. The drive ended in only two plays as wide receiver Josh Janssen took an end-around 31 yards for a score with barely a minute gone from the game.
"I'm very happy with the way our boys came out and really took it to them early in the ball game," Loyola coach Dan Weber said.
That start helped the Rams shake any homecoming nerves.
"He was a real leader tonight, he was," Weber said. "He did a great job running our offense. ... I mean he did everything right."
"I was really nervous at first but it was cool to have the big crowd and my teammates helping me out," McHugh said.
The Rams looked unstoppable during the first half, scoring on every possession save one - a partially blocked field goal. After Janssen's early score, running backs Austin Dahlen and Morgan Griffin each added 1-yard touchdowns minutes later. Each back later added to his touchdown total, Griffin two more times.
Even the defense got in on the scoring as Tommy Swanson returned an interception 20 yards for a touchdown.
Hot Springs, which had combined with Plains to form a team for the past several seasons, began a six-man team this season, leaving Plains the task of carrying on with a depleted roster.
Plains' drought nearly came to an end in the third quarter when starting quarterback Eric Rummell returned a kickoff to the Rams' 22-yard line. Freshman Bransen Krebs had replaced Rummell as signal caller earlier in the game and attempted four passes to 6-foot-4 receiver Tanner Ostrom in the red zone.
All four landed incomplete and the Horsemen turned the ball over on downs.
Maintaining the shutout for a big win was just what Loyola was looking for on homecoming night, Griffin said.
"We knew that a lot of alumni were coming back into town for this one and we put on a show," said Griffin, who finished with 78 yards on 11 carries.
Plains 0 0 0 0 - 0
Loyola 28 14 14 0 - 56
L - Josh Janssen 31-yard run (Janssen kick)
L - Austin Dahlen 1-yard run (Janssen kick)
L - Morgan Griffin 1-yard run (Janssen kick)
L - Tommy Swanson 20-yard interception return (Janssen kick)
L - Griffin 7-yard run (Janssen kick)
L - Janssen 68-yard pass from Matt McHugh (Janssen kick)
L - Griffin 10-yard run (Janssen kick)
L - Dahlen 6-yard run (Janssen kick)