The Marian Central Catholic High School football team defeated 9-0 Antioch High School 31-9 Oct. 27 to advance to the second round of the IHSA Class 5A playoffs.

The Hurricane defense came out in full force, setting Marian up for two scoring opportunities off Antioch turnovers to gain a first half 10-0 lead. Combined with a consistent offensive effort, No. 14 Marian (6-4) gradually wore down No. 3 Antioch while limiting turnovers and penalties to seal the victory.

“It’s always about the field position game,” said head coach Mike Maloney. “Having discipline and mental toughness not to retaliate or making sure that you’re not putting your team in a disadvantage. That’s what good football teams do.”

The Hurricanes first lined up a rushing touchdown opportunity for senior Gavin Scott after a fumble recovery by senior Ryan St. Clair. Before the half, Marian was at it again when senior Steven Pinter grabbed another fumble off senior Matt Darbro’s punt.

“The coaches always say make sure you hustle down to the kick returner just in case something happens like that,” said Pinter. “So I just made sure to hustle down and sure enough, the ball popped out and I jumped right on it.”

Shortly thereafter with the seconds ticking down to the half, Darbro secured a field goal for Marian.

The Sequoits did gain momentum off a 9-yard interception return with 7:21 left in the third quarter, but Marian’s defensive line held strong. Pinter logged a tackle at the 12-yard line to slow Antioch. Fellow seniors Kevin Hearst, Riley Lambert and Sam Limbaugh stopped Antioch cold on third-and-goal, forcing a fourth down.

“The momentum was crazy,” said Lambert. “It was insane and the adrenaline … that got our confidence back up to hold them to a field goal.”

Marian’s offense then used the momentum to eventually secure a 43-yard touchdown reception from senior quarterback A.J. Golembiewski to junior Bryce Radcliffe. Golembiewski would land another pass in the fourth quarter, a 26-yard touchdown to sophomore Patsy Ricciardi. Combined with Scott’s second rushing touchdown of the night and a St. Clair interception with 2:35 left in play, the late scoring run secured Marian’s ticket to the second round.

“We have to stay motivated and keep this confidence going,” said Lambert. “We need to stay focused on winning and doing our jobs.”

Marian will play Glenbard South in Glen Ellyn at 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4.

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