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Football: Naperville Central sends Marist packing 27-21

Marist's Isaiah Bickhem (15) Naperville Central's Luke Daley (54) fight for fumbled ball. | Patrick Gleason/For Sun-Times Media

Hed: Down out
Sub:

Marist's Isaiah Bickhem (15) and Naperville Central's Luke Daley (54) fight for a fumbled ball. | Patrick Gleason/For Sun-Times Media Hed: Down and out Sub: Naperville Central knocks out Marist 27-21 in a barnburner

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Updated: December 25, 2013 6:43AM



When Marist scored on its first two possessions of the second half Saturday to build a 21-7 lead over Naperville Central, it appeared in position to advance to the Class 8A state championship game.

Marist had all the momentum, its offense was moving the ball at will and its defense was styming Central’s offense.

Everything changed, however, over the final 17:53 remaining in the game. So much, in fact, that Naperville Central scored 20 unanswered points and walked away with a stunning 27-21 win over Marist in Naperville.

“It was a game of big plays,” said Marist coach Pat Dunne, clearly dejected. “It was a game of momentum and Naperville Central did a great job.”

The game was tied 7-7 at the half. Marist (9-4), however, took the opening possession of the third quarter and marched 74 yards on nine plays to reach paydirt. Peter Andreotti (26 carries, 108 yards) burst in from one yard out and Cillian Hannon added the second of three point-after kicks for a 14-7 lead just 2:29 into the second half.

Marist’s defense then stepped up. On Central’s next possession, Marist’s Jack Stanton recovered a fumble at Central’s 44-yard line.

Marist needed nine plays to extend its lead to 21-7, as Andreotti again scored from 1-yard with 5:58 left in the third quarter.

“The offensive line did a great job blocking up front,” said Dunne of linemen Jack Hynes, Mitch Schleyer, Jack McHugh, Virgil Robertson and Jack Maida.

To Central’s credit, they never wavered in their pursuit of victory, despite facing a two-touchdown deficit and Marist having waves of momentum.

Nolan Davis’s 2-yard TD run, however, cut the deficit to 21-13 at 1:56 of the third. Marist blocked the point-after kick.

On Central’s ensuing possession, quarterback Jake Kolbe found Michael Kolzow in the end zone to make it 21-19 at 9:46 of the fourth. Marist, however, stopped Central’s potential game-tying two-point conversion.

Central’s defense stepped up though, and forced Marist to punt on the ensuing possession.

It was no ordinary punt.

On its descent toward the returner, the ball appeared to have hit a Central player. Marist’s Nic Weishar tried to get a handle on the bouncing ball and appeared to have finally made a recovery recovery near the end zone. One official signaled a Marist touchdown. Moments later, after a brief huddle between three or four officials, the play was ruled a touchback.

Central still had life.

“The explanation I received, as even though it (the ball) hit their player, it was a dead ball even though we recovered,” Dunne said. “That’s the explanation I was given.”

“They said I recovered the ball in the end zone,” Weishar said. “I recovered it at the one. We had more opportunities to win the game after that play.”

Central (10-3) then went 80 yards on 18 plays — converting four of five third-down plays and two fourth downs — with Kolbe scoring from one yard out for the game-winner.

With 1:16 left on the clock, Marist had more than enough time to make some noise, which they did, moving to the Central 22. However, Jack Donegan’s pass was intercepted in the end zone, putting a stunning end to Marist’s season.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our team and what we accomplished this season,” said Weishar, a Notre Dame recruit.

It was a tough first half for Donegan (18 of 27, 173 yards). His first pass attempt of the game was intercepted by Kolzow and returned 44 yards for a touchdown. Connor Assalley’s point-after kick made it 7-0 Naperville Central.

Marist drove 74 yards in 14 plays, capped by a one-yard touchdown run by Andreotti on a fourth-and-goal. Andreotti’s TD tied the game 7-7 at 4:56 of the opening quarter.



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