The Venice High School Gondoliers had a couple of big plays on offense, but their struggle to put a successful drive together resulted in a 24-0 non-league loss to Loyola at home Friday, September 17th.

After plowing through last year’s regular season undefeated with a 10-0 record, the Gondoliers have suffered their second-straight defeat this season.

Venice narrowly lost 24-21 at Carson Friday, September 10th.

Loyola was one of the teams Venice (0-2) put away in its path through the regular season last year 17-13, but the Cubs (2-0) had different plans this year.

After a 48-0 blowout of Regis Jesuit High School of Colorado last week, Loyola looked to continue the momentum against the Gondos.

Venice had to challenge the Cubs without senior wide receiver Jimmy Armstrong, who had two touchdowns against Carson and was sidelined with an ankle injury.

The Gondos filled in for Armstrong with a couple of big catches, but the running game didn’t pick up the slack, as running back Ken Ashley rushed for only 38 yards.

“We have no excuses. You have to find a way to overcome things like that (Armstrong’s absence),” Venice Coach Angelo Gasca said.

“We had no rhythm on offense. We struggled all the way around.”

Venice made the first explosive move in the game after a 25-yard reception by wide receiver Jonas Mouton from senior quarterback Robert Ambers, who was 14-for-21 in passing for 175 yards.

The drive shifted sides after a fumbled hike in the next play, and Loyola converted the turnover into a touchdown for a 6-0 lead with two minutes left in the first quarter.

Cubs senior running back Trason Bragg added another score on a five-yard run, and quarterback Casey Frost, who threw for 55 yards, connected with Dominic Gonzales for the two-point conversion with eight minutes left in the second quarter.

A 26-yard reception by wide receiver Talib Woods from Ambers took the Gondos to mid field, but it wasn’t enough to stop the team from heading into halftime behind 14-0.

“We needed to focus on getting through the adversity of losing the game before,” Ambers said. “We got behind early and the line was having trouble, but they held up good.”

The Cubs shattered any comeback hopes for the Gondos in the first play of the second half, when Matt Appenfelder returned the kickoff for a touchdown.

Venice’s running game continued to have difficulty in the second half, and Loyola stretched its lead to 24-0 after a 38-yard field goal by Thomas Weber with 5:01 left in the third quarter.

The Gondos got a boost from their biggest gain of the game after a 38-yard catch by wide receiver Jonathan Ortega, who finished with 53 yards receiving, but the Cubs denied any scoring chances for Venice.

“They took it to us,” Gasca said. “It’s all about them because they beat us all over the place.”

In other games:

Santa Monica High School grabbed its first victory under second-year coach Michael Burnett as the Vikings delivered a 20-7 non-league defeat to Palisades High School in their home opener.

As an inexperienced team last season, the Vikings finished the year with a 0-9-1 record. The team opened the 2004 season with a 19-6 loss at West Torrance September 10th.

Santa Monica (1-1) showed no signs of inexperience against Palisades (0-2) as the young duo of running backs, junior Michael Henley and sophomore Lewis Adeyemi, bolted the Vikings to victory.

Henley rushed 16 times for 80 yards and a touchdown. Adeyemi added to the strong running game with 14 carries for 69 yards and a touchdown.

The Vikings will next challenge their tough rival Venice High School away at 7 p.m. Friday, September 24th.

St. Monica High School senior quarterback Mitch Smith had another impressive night as he led the visiting Mariners to a 28-21 non-league victory over El Segundo.

The Mariners (1-1) earned their first victory in their second-straight away game. The team opened the season with a 43-30 loss at Artesia September 10th.

Smith, who threw for 243 yards against Artesia, continued to rack up yards in the air against El Segundo (1-1) after completing 20 of 28 passes for 280 yards and two touchdowns.

The Mariners fell behind with 7:56 remaining in the game, but Smith retook the lead for St. Monica after a 3-yard run.

St. Monica will hold its home opener against Montclair Prep at 7:30 p.m. September 24th.

The St. Bernard Vikings were defeated in their second-straight game at home after a 30-14 non-league loss to Cerritos Valley Christian.

The Vikings (0-2), who lost 36-6 to Culver City September 10th, continued to have difficulty on offense against Valley Christian (1-1).

St. Bernard jumped on the scoreboard in the second quarter after trailing the Crusaders 7-0, when senior quarterback Anthony Fernandez entered the end zone on a 9-yard run.

The Vikings added another score after a touchdown reception by wide receiver Reggie Leslie from Fernandez.

Valley Christian prevented any further momentum by St. Bernard in the second half and sealed the victory.

The Vikings will play at Harvard-Westlake at 3:15 p.m. Thursday, September 23rd.

The Westchester High School Comets managed to earn only four first downs and were unable to make a strong showing in the second half, which resulted in a 44-7 non-league loss to Narbonne.

After opening the season with a 32-27 victory at home against Morningside Friday, September 10th, the Comets (1-1) struggled to add another win against the Narbonne Gauchos (2-0).

The Comets went into halftime trailing by a touchdown at 14-7, after tailback Greg Ray scored on the first play from scrimmage in the game with a long 60-yard touchdown run.

Ray, who tallied 149 second-half rushing yards against Morningside, suffered a sprained ankle in the game after earning 72 rushing yards on four carries.

Narbonne left the Comets in the dust in the second half, holding Westchester to only 11 offensive plays. The Gauchos punished the Westchester defense with 19 first downs in the game.

The Comets will next play away at San Pedro High School at 7 p.m. Friday, September 24th.

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