The Hawthorne High football team can only hope history repeats itself.
The defending Southern Section Division III champion Cougars, lost their season opener to 1992 Division I runner-up Loyola, 20-13, Saturday night at Glendale High.
Hawthorne also lost to Loyola in its 1992 opener, but won its first section title since 1954.
“I thought we did pretty good against Division I,” Hawthorne senior receiver Justin Stallings said. “It was the same as last year so we can still come back and have a good season.”
Had it not been for a fumbled punt snap by Stallings, Hawthorne might have won the game.
With the Cougars leading, 7-3, in the second half, Stallings, punting from his end zone, mishandled a low snap. Jerome Porter recovered for a Loyola touchdown to put the Cubs ahead, 10-7, with 1 minute 48 seconds to play in the third quarter.
“I tried to bat the ball away and the next thing I knew there was a pile of guys on top of me,” Stallings said.
A five-yard touchdown run on third and goal by Kadar Hamilton with 1:18 to play gave the Cubs’ a 20-7 lead.
Stallings returned the kickoff 70 yards to set up a 10-yard touchdown run by Eric Chaney with 12 seconds to play.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Stallings finished with only one reception for two yards.
“The receivers were open, but the quarterback didn’t have enough time to throw the ball,” Stallings said. “We were a little nervous.”
Hawthorne quarterback Kenji Tatum completed five of 18 passes for 63 yards and had 41 yards rushing in 10 attempts.
Chaney, a transfer from Bishop Montgomery and cousin of Stallings, led all rushers with 45 yards in 13 carries.
Despite trailing, 3-0, for most of the first half, Hawthorne was the dominant team.
Tatum completed only three of nine pass attempts before connecting with Kelvin Hunter on a 28-yard pass to move the ball to the Loyola one-yard line.
Two plays later, Chaney scored from two yards out with 34 seconds left before halftime. Alex Estrada’s extra point gave Hawthorne a 7-3 lead.
Loyola, which was outgained, 168-106, was only one for nine on third-down conversions.
The Cubs converted a fourth and two from the Hawthorne 28-yard line on their opening drive. Four plays later, Mark McDonald kicked a 44-yard field goal with 5:10 remaining in the first quarter for a 3-0 lead.
“Offensively, we made a couple of mistakes,” Loyola Coach Steve Grady said. “On defense, we played really well. They have a lot of weapons.”