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Football: Joliet Catholic turns back Providence 42-35

Joliet Catholic's Nick Morrisquarterback hands off Michael Ivlow. | Larry Kane/For Sun-Times Media

Joliet Catholic's Nick Morrison quarterback hands off to Michael Ivlow. | Larry Kane/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: October 31, 2013 2:36AM



Providence coach Mark Coglianese said it was no secret why Joliet Catholic celebrated a heart-stopping, season-opening victory over the Celtics.

On a Saturday night when all the offensive stars came out at Joliet Memorial Stadium, one shined brightest.

“Number 30 for them was the best man on the field,” Coglianese said of Joliet Catholic senior wingback Mike Ivlow. “He made big play after big play.”

Ivlow, who battled through severe leg cramps, finished with 310 yards on 17 carries and scored touchdowns on runs of 80, 59, 67 and 32 yards to highlight a 42-35 victory. The 80-yarder came on the first play from scrimmage and set up a Hilltoppers touchdown on their next offensive play.

Quarterback Nick Morrison executed a play-action with a fake to Ivlow and found Jordan Jones open for a 42-yard scoring strike. With less than three minutes gone, Joliet Catholic, No. 22 in the Sun-Times rankings, was up 14-0.

No. 18 Providence got back in it with a series of long scoring drives, including a beauty in the final 3:16 of the first half to make it 21-13, and had the game tied at 21, 28 and 35.

“It was a great game,” Coglianese said. “The rough start put us in the hole, but I’m proud of the way we battled back.”

Both offenses delivered. Providence totaled 470 yards and had 23 first downs, Joliet Catholic 505 yards and 16 first downs.

Dominic Lagone rushed for 114 and caught nine passes for 53 for the Celtics. Justin Hunniford hit 29-of-38 passes for 340 yards. Luc Quaranta caught nine for 101 and Miles Boykin six for 141.

Jones caught two for 69 for Joliet Catholic. The second was a huge 27-yarder on a fourth-and-1 from the Hilltoppers’ 41 with the score tied at 28 early in the fourth quarter. That set up Ivlow’s fourth scoring run.

“I was surprised we called that play,” Jones said. “All I could do was tip it to myself with one hand and then bring it in.”

After Providence tied it at 35 on a 75-yard Hunniford to Boykin strike, the Hilltoppers marched 80 yards to the decisive score. Morrison took a naked bootleg 13 yards on a fourth-and-2 from the Joliet Catholic 28 to maintain possession, and Nick Borgra chewed up valuable yardage while Ivlow left with more cramping.

Morris scored the decisive touchdown from a yard out with 2:22 left, but the Celtics were not finished. They faced a fourth-and-6 at the Joliet Catholic 30 with 1:16 left. Hunniford scrambled right to get the first down. But Hilltoppers defensive tackle Anthony McInerney chased him out of bounds a foot short of the first down.

“I was playing the opposite (right) tackle on that play,” McInerney said. “We had a spy called, and I was watching the quarterback. When he took off, I went as fast as I could across the field. It was the most exciting play of my life.”

“Two high-powered offenses, and it came down to a defensive stop, a half-yard short,” Hilltoppers coach Dan Sharp said. “All these people had to wait a day to see this one — it was worth it for them.”



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