Marian Central was one of two teams left standing in a tough East Suburban Catholic Conference, but the Hurricanes’ season came to an end when they fell to Vernon Hills in the Class 5A quarterfinals Nov. 12.

Both teams played tough on defense throughout the game that was much closer than the 17-0 score would suggest. As is often the case in such games, errors and turnovers made the difference.

At halftime, the Cougars led the Hurricanes in first downs by a count of five to two, the only notable offensive statistic. Both teams held each other scoreless and allowed very few yards.

The Cougars, known for their strong defense, only allowed eight points in the first two rounds of the playoffs. The Hurricanes, knowing they were playing without starting quarterback Gavin Scott (ankle injury), knew they had to start taking chances if they were going to score any points themselves. In the third quarter, they rallied. A fake punt conversion for a first down started the momentum their way, but after giving up a 27-yard field goal with 1:03 left in the third, more was needed.

Hurricanes coach Mike Maloney decided to go for it on fourth down again with the ball on his team’s 28-yard line with 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter, hoping to catch the Cougars off-guard. The attempt failed and the Cougars took the opportunity to score a touchdown two plays later, a 2-yard run from quarterback Kyle Hull. A fumble on the next series, followed by a personal foul on the ’Canes, resulted in another opportunity for Hull, who scored his second 2-yard rushing touchdown with 6:04 to play in the fourth. The ’Canes had two more shots, both resulting in turnovers to bring their season to an end.

Freshman ’Canes quarterback Patsy Ricciardi, in for the injured Scott, added to his experience and was 12-for-19 with two interceptions and 95 yards of passing, 84 of them to A.J. Golembiewski. Running back Brian Niemaszek carried the ball 26 times for 119 yards. Overall offense was even, the ’Canes finishing with 199 yards from scrimmage, the Cougars, 200. Where they were not even was turnovers: ’Canes four, Cougars zero.

“Marian Central football has always prided itself on being a state contender. The class of 2017 really solidified their legacy, for future classes to look up to. A quarterfinal opportunity doesn’t come every year,” Maloney said. “It is something to really be proud of. I am so proud of these kids and want them to be focused on how much they accomplished over the season.”

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