Facing a strong team that had only one loss on the season, Marian Central, the obvious underdog, needed a win to have a shot at postseason play.
The Hurricanes delivered a thrilling victory in the final seconds of the game, defeating Niles Notre Dame 14-7 at George Harding Field on Coaches vs. Cancer night Oct. 13.
Marian was on the board first after quarterback A.J. Golembiewski handed Gavin Scott the ball for a 17-yard touchdown run. The Dons fired back a touchdown with just over two minutes left in the first quarter, bringing the score to 7-7.
Thanks to a gamelong effort defensively, even a recovered fumble by the Dons didn’t give them much of an advantage. The ’Canes prevented Notre Dame from moving the ball effectively, looking much different than the team they were weeks earlier.
Late in the fourth quarter, the score hadn’t moved. When the ’Canes had their final offensive possession, they didn’t waste any time moving the ball to midfield with carries by Scott.
With just over 22 seconds left in the game, Golembiewski passed to Charlie Kramer for 50 yards. Kramer stumbled, but ran quickly to the end zone, keeping a playoff picture for the ’Canes within reach.
Notre Dame had a chance to tie before the clock ran out, but a sack by Jorge Enriquez sent the Dons packing.
“You don’t draw it up that way. We want to come out and perform better early. You don’t want it to come down to a possession, but this is a tough place to play,” head coach Mike Maloney said after the game.
“Four quarters of defense speaks for itself. Offensively, we want to move the ball more consistently. We had too many penalties, so discipline was an issue,” Maloney said.
Junior Patrick Kelly had two sacks and a big stop on the Dons with just over a minute left in the game.
“We have to stay low on defense. I know our defensive line stood up a little bit. Our offense needs to improve on blocking. We had a couple dropped balls and we could improve on those,” Kelly said.
Marian moved to 4-4 overall, 2-4 in the East Suburban Catholic Conference. The ’Canes will host ESCC rival St. Patrick at home for the final regular season game at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20.
Maloney said it is no secret Marian was the not the favorite.
“Absolutely we’re the underdog. We own that label,” Maloney said. “We have the reputation of always winning one game we’re not supposed to win. They’re an 8A team that’s got one loss against the best team in our conference, and we came out and willed the victory. I’m happy to be a part of it.”