By Jason Maholy
Brother Rice scored two touchdowns in a 10-second span, turning a 14-13 deficit into a 28-14 lead and ultimately a victory over Joliet Catholic.
With the Crusaders trailing the host Hilltoppers 14-13 in the fourth quarter, junior running back Willie Shaw scored from one-yard out, and a successful two-point conversion put Rice up 21-14.
On the first play of the Hilltoppers’ next possession, the Crusaders’ defense forced Joliet Catholic quarterback Aiden Voss out of the pocket and hit him as he tried to get rid of the ball. Rice recovered at the one-yard line, setting up Shaw for another short scoring run to give the Crusaders a two-touchdown lead they would not relinquish.
Rice junior quarterback Ben Somers opened the scoring with a nine-yard scramble in the first quarter.
The Crusaders (4-1) have a rematch this week with Loyola (3-2), the team that beat them13-3 in last season’s IHSA Class 8A championship game. Rice split two games with the Ramblers in 2018, throttling them 35-3 in the regular season.
The Cardinals played a rude host to the Astros, holding their high-powered offense to a season-low in points and handing Shepard its first loss of the season.
Astros senior quarterback Thomas Smith completed 10 of 17 passes for 107 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Alex Harris ran for 115 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries, and Ira Guyton caught three passes for 45 yards and a score.
One the defensive side, Matthew Hightower had two tackles for loss, one sack and one forced fumble. Zack Robinson recorded 10 tackkles.
Shepard played most of the game without starting safeties Jalen Smith and Elijah Vinson, the latter who tried to play in the second half but lasted only nine plays – and intercepted his fourth pass of the season – before re-tweaking his injured ankle.
Astros coach John Rone said his team was simply outplayed, and that the Cardinals’ defense executed better than the Shepard offense.
“We definitely made more mistakes than usual on both sides of the ball,” Rone said. “The bottom line was Eisenhower played a better game than us. They were hungrier than us and hats off to their staff for having those kids ready to play.”
Rone expects the loss to be beneficial to the Astros in the long run.
“You never want to lose, especially to a district rival, but I do expect our guys to learn from this,” he said. “All season our guys have shown a don’t stop attitude and a hunger that’s made us hard to beat. I fully expect this game to reinvigorate that part of our makeup.”
St. Laurence 48
The Vikings scored seven first-half touchdowns – tallying on offense, defense and special teams – and coasted to the win over the Rams.
Eleven St. Laurence players ran the ball, with junior running back Nate Thomas leading all rushers with 56 yards and a touchdown. Junior quarterback Darius Wilson and A.J. Wrenn also ran for scores.
Wilson completed 4 of 5 passes for 75 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown strike to Brandon Wilson.
Jalen Hamilton caught one pass for 34 yards.
The Vikings defense held the Rams to -16 yards rushing and 59 total yards. The ‘D’ also scored twice, a on Damion Rhoden 10-yard fumble return following a strip-sack by Will Waters and a 44-yard Interception return by Van Williams.
Aaron Wofford returned a punt 57 yards for a score.