Landon 20,

St. Stephens/St. Agnes 7

Twice in the second half of its 20-7 victory over St. Stephens's/St. Agnes yesterday, the Landon offense had squandered scoring chances. So when senior running back Andy Loomis barreled five yards for the final touchdown with seven seconds remaining in Bethesda, the Bears finally could breathe easy.

When the final seconds of both team's Interstate Athletic Conference opener ticked off, Landon (3-1) had claimed its ninth consecutive victory over St. Stephen's/St. Agnes, thanks to a rugged rushing attack led by Loomis and two critical takeaways late in the game. The Saints (2-2) have not won against the Bears since a 29-28 victory in 1996.

The final scoring play, Loomis said, "was more to make a point. We had gotten stopped in the red zone twice, and everybody on the offense was frustrated and just wanted to put the ball through the end zone."

St. Stephen's/St. Agnes had a chance at victory despite five turnovers (three interceptions and two fumbles). St. Stephen's/St. Agnes trailed 14-0 when Saints defensive back Andre Hunter made an interception with 9 minutes 49 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

The Saints took over and quarterback Brian Scullin directed a 12-play, 80-yard drive, capping it with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Phil Nance with 2:23 remaining in the period.

But the Bears defense -- and its two takeaways -- kept the game from getting any closer. Adam Rashid recovered a fumble at the St. Stephen's/St. Agnes 20 -- resulting in a missed field goal attempt -- and senior linebacker Brendan Reilly picked off Scullin at Landon's 22 to set up the final scoring drive.

"We gave that one away," St. Stephen's/St. Agnes Coach Gary Schnell said. "They make you make mistakes. . . . We never had good field position and had to go a long way to score. We're a little school with a bunch of kids that played hard. We really battled the whole game."

It was the fourth consecutive close game for St. Stephen's/St. Agnes, which lost its opener by seven points and won the next two games by a total of 13 points.

Landon took a 6-0 lead when senior quarterback Chris Tkac connected on a 28-yard touchdown pass to Alex Rhoads with 2:21 left in the first quarter. On the ensuing St. Stephen's/St. Agnes possession, George Huguely made an interception and returned it 31 yards to the Saints' 4-yard line. Rhoads scored on the next play to give Landon a 14-0 lead.

The Saints' two final possessions before halftime also resulted in turnovers. First, Landon senior linebacker John Bolen recovered a fumble, and then Rashid made an interceptions after St. Stephen's/St. Agnes had driven to the Bears 11-yard line.

"The defense always seems to pull us up, especially when the offense isn't playing well," Loomis said. "They gave up more yardage than they wanted, but when it came down to it, they made the right calls."

Landon running back Andy Loomis scores the final touchdown of the game on a 5-yard run with seven seconds left against St. Stephen's/SA.