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Loyola's linebacker Cody Sullivan, (9), celebrates after picking off Palatine's Ethan Olles, (12) in the 2nd quarter.| Vincent D. Johnson~for Sun-Times Media
Instead of talking up his own skills, Cody Sullivan ceded almost all of the credit Saturday for his career-high three interceptions to his coaches.
Loyola’s senior linebacker caught as many passes from Ethan Olles as Alex Nawrot, the Palatine quarterback’s third-leading receiver.
Sullivan’s second pick preceded Julius Holley’s 2-yard touchdown run with 2:58 to go before the break, and the No. 5-ranked Ramblers never looked back in their 19-7 win over the seventh-ranked Pirates in the Class 8A quarterfinals.
“I absolutely saw it all on film,” Sullivan said. “The coaches put us in the right spots. They told us where to be and good things happened.”
Loyola (11-1) won for the 10th time in a row and is in the state semifinals for the fourth consecutive season. The Ramblers will play No. 8 Glenbard North at home Saturday for the second year in a row in the semifinals.
“This feels good, but we still have things to work for,” Sullivan said. “Anything less that a state championship is not what we want this year.”
Danny Rafferty picked off a pass on the first play of the game, and sophomore Mike Kurzydlowski kicked a 25-yard field for a lead Loyola never surrendered.
The Ramblers didn’t allow a touchdown on defense for the third time in five games. Palatine’s points came on Cam Kuksa’s 47-yard punt return early in the third quarter that left the score 10-7 in favor of Loyola.
But the Ramblers responded by piecing together their best series of the game, a nine-play, 80-yard drive that ended with Peter Pujals’ 21-yard scoring strike to Luke Ford to up the team’s advantage to 16-7 with 7:16 left in the third quarter.
Even still, the senior quarterback deflected the applause.
“The defense won that game for us,” said Pujals, who finished 13-for-23 for 158 yards and didn’t turn over the ball.
Palatine (10-2) lost for the first time since the opening week. The Pirates also ended their 2010 season in the quarterfinals with a loss to Loyola.