College Football: St. Xavier doesn’t let up on St. Francis
BY DENNIS NELSON For Sun-Times Media September 28, 2013 11:00PM
USF's E.J. White is pressured by St. Xavier's Jacob Ghinazzi Saturday. Credit: Dennis Nelson
Updated: October 30, 2013 7:02AM
The little things added up for No. 5 St. Xavier during a 37-25 Mid-States Football Association crossover victory over No. 22 University of St. Francis on Saturday evening at Joliet Memorial Stadium.
Among them was a blocked extra point in the fourth quarter by St. Xavier, which helped turn the tide and send the Cougars to their 13th win in 14 meetings with the Saints. St. Xavier improved to 3-1, while USF fell to 2-2.
“It’s a rivalry game and we knew we were going to get their best,” St. Xavier senior linebacker Dave Marciano said.
“Our defense did a great job holding them to field goals nearly the whole game,” St. Francis coach Joe Curry said. “Offensively, we have to put points on the board and we waited too long to do that.”
Spencer Nolen tied a school record with five field goals (43 yards, 32, 39, 46 and 30) to help the Cougars take a 19-6 lead into the fourth quarter. That’s when the fireworks started.
“We kept kicking field goals, so who knew there was going to be all those fireworks in the fourth quarter,” St. Xavier coach Mike Feminis said.
A 73-yard pass play from E.J. White (34-for-52, 421 yards, two touchdowns) to Troy Torrence cut the lead to 22-19 and gave the Saints momentum
However, the extra-point attempt was blocked and returned by Dave Marciano, giving St. Xavier a 24-19 lead with 10:59 left in the game.
“We called the block right and it was wide open,” Marciano said. “From a momentum standpoint, it was huge. They started to put in a charge so those two points really helped. It really woke up our offense.”
“We spend a lot of time on (special teams) and this week, we put that block in,” Feminis said. “Dave’s a great athlete. He’s an emotional leader and a playmaker. He’s scored three touchdowns in four games and he’s a linebacker.”
“The blocked PAT killed us,” Curry said. “I told our team, great teams figure out a way to do the little things correctly. If we make that PAT, it’s a field goal game and we have the momentum.”
A 3-yard touchdown run by John Rohde, who combined for 345 rushing and passing yards, and a 22-yard scamper by Nick Pesek put the game away.
Marciano set a school record by returning a punt 81 yards for the game’s first touchdown, giving the visitors a 10-0 lead with 6:38 to play in the first quarter.
“Coach (Mike) Slovick day in and day out preaches special teams,” Marciano said.
The catch of the game was a one-hander by Torrence (12 catches, 243 yards, two touchdowns) for a 19-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter. It cut the Cougars’ lead to 19-13.
“They played their butts off and Joe and their staff work very hard,” Feminis said. “If they keep their heads on straight, they are going to do some damage this year.”
However, on the Cougars’ first play from scrimmage, Rhode ran 45 yards deep into St. Francis territory, setting up a score.
“John is coming of age,” Feminis said. “This was his second start at the college level. He’s got a chance to be really special.”
Rohde was 25-of-37 for 280 yards and had 65 yards rushing on 15 carries.