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Football: Fenwick upends Brother Rice 24-21 in Catholic League playoffs

Updated: December 18, 2013 6:45AM



Coming off what Fenwick coach Gene Nudo called a “gut-wrenching loss” to Wheaton North last week, the Friars handed Brother Rice a gut-wrenching loss of its own Saturday afternoon in Chicago.

A last-second field goal by Mike Cahill gave Fenwick a 24-21 win in the first round of the Catholic League playoffs.

“It’s pretty cool to win a game like that,” said Cahill, who avoided overtime with a 34-yard field goal with four seconds left in the game. “I have to give thanks to my offense, though, for putting me in that position.”

With Western Michigan-bound running back Ryan Spillane on the sidelines, the Friars (10-2) took charge behind tight end Ryan Smith.

“Everyone says we’re a one-man team,” Nudo said. “(Smith), in my opinion, is the best tight end in the state of Illinois. He had 10 touchdown receptions coming into this game. He’s a big target. He knows what to do with the ball, and I’m sure glad we have the opportunity to have him here.”

Smith ended Saturday’s game with eight catches for 113 yards and a touchdown.

The first half belonged to Brother Rice (3-7), which held a 14-0 lead.

Facing a fourth-and-goal, Marcus Jones (23 carries, 97 yards) ran up the middle for a 2-yard touchdown.

Alex Alarcon (11-of-27 passing, 110 yards; 15 rushes for 88 yards) scored on an 11-yard run for a 14-point lead.

Fenwick then stepped up its game.

“We didn’t want this to be our last game,” quarterback Gino Cavalieri (19-of-40, 459 yards, 2 touchdowns) said. “We knew we wanted this and got another chance, so we stuck to our game plan. (Smith) knows his job and what he needs to do to get it done and we got it done.”

A third-quarter interception by Fenwick’s Jack Rafferty led to Cavalieri and Smith connecting for an eight-yard touchdown pass.

Fenwick then recovered a Brother Rice fumble and tied the game on an 11-yard touchdown run from Michael Hanrahan.

Brother Rice responded with a 45-yard touchdown pass from Alarcon to Tommy Powell.

Fenwick’s Charlie Emmons tied the game at 21 with a four-yard run with a minute left to play.

An interception by Aaron Garand gave Fenwick the chance for a big finish, and Cahill launched the game-winning field goal.

“We’re kind of big on comeback victories,” Smith said. “After winning a game in the playoffs last year on a last-second field goal, I guess it’s what we do.”

For Brother Rice, the loss was hard to swallow.

“We came out in the first half and just executed well and we were on our game,” Alarcon said. “We went in (to the second half) with a two-touchdown lead, but once we hit that first turnover it brought us down. We had our ups and downs and in the end we just didn’t make the plays. We’ll come back strong next year. It’s just really hard.”



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