College Football: Thrilling overtime win for St. Xavier
By Steve Millar For Sun-Times Media September 7, 2013 10:58PM
St. Xavier’s Sean Jones catches the game-winning touchdown pass in overtime Saturday. | Michael Grimm~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 7, 2013 2:27AM
Making his second career start Saturday night, fifth-year senior St. Xavier quarterback Joe Gill certainly had his ups and downs. His last throw of the night, though, is one none of the Cougars will soon forget.
Gill hit Sean Jones on a fade pass for a 13-yard touchdown in overtime as the No. 4 Cougars completed a thrilling 31-24 comeback victory over defending national champion and second-ranked Marian University (Ind.) in Mount Greenwood.
“I just threw it up and he caught it,” Gill said of the final throw.
His coach, Mike Feminis, was a bit more descriptive in his praise.
“Gill made an unbelievable audible to the fade and then a redshirt freshman (Jones) makes a great catch,” he said.
Gill finished 31-of-51 passing for 303 yards and two touchdowns for St. Xavier (1-0). He found Jones, a Homewood-Flossmoor product, three times for 43 yards.
“Their corners were pressing us all game,” Jones said. “We had worked on the fade a lot in practice. ‘Bubba’ (Gill) made a great throw.
“It feels great. It’s overwhelming, especially coming back from a big deficit.”
The Cougars’ defense then completed a brilliant second half and overtime that saw it shut out Marian (1-1) after trailing 24-10 at the half.
Zach Dolph (15 tackles), who led the defense all night, sacked and stripped quarterback Joey Hecklinski and Nick Cemeno (Providence) pounced on the ball to seal the win.
“Our line got an incredible push and forced (Hecklinski) to tuck and run and I just got my hands extended, the ball came out and Cemeno jumped on it,” Dolph said. “Game over.”
It was an unlikely outcome for the Cougars, whose inexperienced offense struggled early. Turnovers set up Marian’s first two touchdowns.
The Knights led 24-10 at the half after Tevin Lake (29 carries, 180 yards, 2 TDs) ran nine yards to pay dirt late in the second quarter.
On Marian’s second possession of the second half, the Cougars stayed alive with a goal line stand, forcing a turnover on downs at the St. Xavier 1-yard line.
Linebacker-turned-fullback Dave Marciano (St. Rita) scored on a 1-yard run for St. Xavier before Gill hit Andrew alum Nick DeBenedetti (8 catches, 104 yards) for an 8-yard game-tying score with 2:51 left in regulation.
Nick Pesek scored the Cougars’ first touchdown on a 3-yard run set up by Robyn Pondexter’s 63-yard jaunt on a fake punt.
Alex Walters had 15 tackles and 1½ sacks for the Cougars.
“What an unbelievable game,” Feminis said. “The last two national champions go to overtime. We found a way to pull it out. Wow.”