Hilltopper Football defeats Marian Central Catholic


It wasn’t a promising start for Joliet Catholic.

On the Hilltoppers’ first play from scrimmage Friday night at Marian Central, they fumbled. They handed the ball to the Hurricanes in their own territory, barely more than 30 yards from the end zone.

But it was an inspiring finish.

The defense kept the Hurricanes from scoring on that drive, and off the scoreboard for much of the game. In the end, Joliet Catholic left with a 31-21 victory, its fourth straight since falling to Providence in the season opener.

“For us, for our defense to hold on and play as well as they did early, they kept us in the game until we made our adjustments,” JCA coach Dan Sharp said. “That is an outstanding football team and we are so fortunate.”

For JCA (4-1, 3-0 in the East Suburban Catholic Conference), its defense certainly kept it alive. It shut out Marian Central (3-2, 1-2) for the first three quarters, and held the high-powered scoring attack to two touchdowns, one coming in the waning seconds. Coming in, the Hurricanes, behind Miami (Ohio)-bound quarterback Billy Bahl, were averaging 33 points and had put up 35 in the week before against Nazareth.

Neither offense got going in the first half until JCA junior running back Michael Johnson broke a 30-yard touchdown run down the sidelines. At halftime, the Hilltoppers led, 10-0.

Later in the second half, senior running back Nick Borgra reeled off another touchdown run in the fourth quarter – this one from 10 yards out – to put the Hilltoppers up by three scores, 17-0.

Johnson totaled 201 yards on the ground, while Borgra added 150. Borgra also had three catches for 69 yards. As a team, JCA ran for 375 yards.

“That’s kind of our forte,” Sharp said. “We like to run the ball, and the nice thing is we’re not giving it to one guy all the time. We can go right, left, right left, go to the fullback sometimes, a little play-action.”

Marian Central finally got on the scoreboard a couple minutes into the fourth quarter when Jarryd Cabusao rushed in from 6 yards. Cabusao had caught a 48-yard screen pass earlier on the drive.

The Hurricanes had a chance to bring it even closer. Down 17-7, they brought the ball to the 3-yard line. But in three plays, they managed 2 yards. On fourth-and-goal, they were stuffed.

Two players later, Johnson broke a 96-yard touchdown run to put the game out of reach with three minutes remaining.

In the fourth quarter, the Hilltoppers tallied three touchdowns.

“We were able to start mixing it up,” Sharp said. “We got a little rhythm. Once we got comfortable with what they were doing, we executed extremely well.”

Published by The Herald-News/Shaw Media on Saturday, September 27, 2014 by Joey Kaufman


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