Fast-strike JCA zooms past RedHawks
Scoring points in bunches has been a key ingredient of Marist’s success during the Pat Dunne coaching era.
Friday night in Joliet, however, the tables got turned. Instead of benefiting from that kind of offensive barrage, the RedHawks were beleaguered by it, courtesy of Joliet Catholic Academy.
After spotting Marist leads of 14-0 and 21-7, the Hilltoppers scaled Comeback Mountain. They were tied with their guests at halftime, and three fast strikes in the third quarter then put the hosts firmly in command.
The RedHawks managed to tally just once over the last 24 minutes and, as a result, got tagged with a 49-27 setback in the East Suburban Catholic Conference encounter at Memorial Stadium.
“I’ve got to give Joliet Catholic credit — they did play well on both sides of the ball,” Dunne said. “Our guys’ effort was great, but we have faced some great teams and great players [this season], and we have to develop some [defensive] consistency. We’ve got to carry it to where we’re consistently putting [opponents] in [difficult] third-down and fourth-down situations.”
Marist’s defense had its moments, particularly early on. And the RedHawks’ offense gave it a lead to protect right away, as Flynn Nagel (29-yard pass from Jack Donegan) and Peter Andreotti (6-yard run) scored on consecutive series.
Bridging those touchdowns was a successful onsides kick. Marist recovered three of the five it attempted.
“It was definitely a game-plan situation,” Dunne said of the slew of short kickoffs. “We saw on film some openings [in the Hilltoppers’ special-teams alignment], and we really believed we could get to the ball.
“We knew how important possessions are in a game like this. Joliet Catholic can put together 12-, 14- or 16-play drives and take up a [whole] quarter if you don’t watch it, so you don’t want to waste any opportunities.”
JCA finally erased its shutout on Mike Ivlow’s 19-yard run, one of three scoring dashes for the Hilltoppers’ star tailback. One week after the RedHawks (3-2, 2-1) surrendered over 260 yards to St. Patrick’s Anthony Molina, Ivlow torched them for 265 more on 32 carries.
Brendan O’Brien’s interception positioned JCA for its initial TD. The turnover was one of four with which Marist ultimately got charged.
Nagel’s 80-yard reception re-established a two-touchdown edge for the visitors, but Hilltoppers signal-caller Nick Morrison (4-yard run) and Ivlow (18-yard run) drew their squad even by halftime.
“It was a game of momentum swings and big plays,” Dunne said. “I think there were a lot of different plays where we let a few things slip from our grasp and they took advantage.
“Could it have been 28-7 [in our favor]? Maybe, but we looked at it as we were hurting ourselves with mistakes and penalties. It was 0-0 [in our eyes] and we had to come out with some fire in the second half.”
Marist didn’t lack that asset, but JCA possessed a little more of it. Morrison’s 2-yard keeper successfully culminated the Hilltoppers’ opening series, then a RedHawks fumble at their own 28 led to Ivlow’s 10-yard touchdown sprint.
Marist created a turnover on JCA’s ensuing possession, as Marty Ryan and Isaiah Bickhem joined forces to jar the ball loose. Victor Ogbebor scooped it up and returned it to the Hilltoppers’ 38.
But any hopes the RedHawks had of getting back into contention were snuffed out by an interception. Marist also came up dry after reaching JCA’s 11 when the Hilltoppers stole another Donegan aerial.
“That goes in any game, but it’s very hard to win a game against a team like this when you turn the ball over,” Dunne said. “We have a lot to improve on — if we limited those turnovers, who knows where it leads?”
Providing JCA’s remaining points were Zach Resin, who caught a 10-yard pass from Morrison, and Nick Borgra, who tallied on a 6-yard run. Jack Stanton’s end-zone recovery of a bad Hilltoppers snap accounted for Marist’s last touchdown.
Stanton, who also pounced on one of the RedHawks’ onsides kicks, finished with nine tackles. Also making their presences felt on defense were JaWill Aldridge (team-high 11 tackles, one pass breakup), Adam Miller (seven stops, two tackles for loss) and Sean Guinn (six stops).
Although plagued by interceptions, Donegan still completed more than half of his 44 passes for 302 yards. Between them, Nic Weishar, Andreotti and Nagel caught 20 of those balls for 267 yards’ worth of pickups.
Marist meets Carmel in another ESCC contest on Friday. The Corsairs will enter the game with a 1-4 ledger, but Dunne is wary because they have played a rugged schedule thus far.
“Win or lose, we always have to look to improve,” Dunne said. “Every game’s an important game and we’ve just got to get better, starting today.”
Marist 13 8 0 6 - 27
JCA 7 14 21 7 - 49
First downs 14
Yds. rushing 83
Yds. passing 302
Total yds. 385
Had intercepted 3
MA — Flynn Nagel, 29-yd. pass from Jack Donegan (Kyle Gambla kick)
MA — Peter Andreotti, 6-yd. run (kick failed)
JCA — Mike Ivlow, 19-yd. run (Brian Bravo kick)
MA — Nagel, 80-yd. pass from Donegan (Mark Ferguson, pass from Donegan)
JCA — Nick Morrison, 4-yd. run (Bravo kick)
JCA — Ivlow, 18-yd. run (Bravo kick)
JCA — Morrison, 2-yd. run (Bravo kick)
JCA — Ivlow, 10-yd. run (Bravo kick)
JCA — Zach Resin, 10-yd. pass from Morrison (Bravo kick)
MA — Jack Stanton, fumble recovery in JCA end zone (kick blocked)
JCA — Nick Borgra, 6-yd. run (Bravo kick)
Marist Rushing: Andreotti 19-72, Donegan 4-11. Passing: Donegan 44-24-302. Receiving: Weishar 7-86, Andreotti 7-38, Nagel 6-143, Holland 2-26, Neal 1-7, Ferguson 1-2.