St. Patrick's runs wild in win over Glenbard South

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St. Patrick's runs wild in win over Glenbard South

By Patrick Z. McGavin
SeasonPass.com

It is not very often a 300-yard rushing game becomes a footnote. Count Jeremy Molina among the skeptics. I didnt think it had a very good chance after seeing it in practice, the star junior Shamrocks running back said.

St. Patrick won its first state playoff game in eight years with a parlor game trick, a visual sleight of hand that turned a tight-game into a convincing 41-15 victory over Glenbard South in a first-round Class 6A state playoff game at Hanson.

St. Patrick (7-3), the eighth-seed, advances to meet top-seed Cary-Grove in second-round play.

With the Shamrocks up 14-9, receiver Steve Galiardo caught the second half kickoff at the 20-yard line, where he was immediately converged upon by five other Shamrock players. They formed a huddle and hid the ball.

As the Raiders return team converged on the bunched up group, St. Patrick broke out of the circle, with John Dabe carrying the ball. Dabe made one move and ran untouched 80-yards for the touchdown. St. Patrick had never attempted the play in a game before. Our special teams coaches came up with it, seeing something on film, St. Patrick coach Dan Galante said.

It really changed the momentum of the game, he said. Dabe scored two touchdowns in a 25-second second stretch dating to the end of the second quarter. His 16-yard touchdown catch from sophomore quarterback Zach Fuller (12 of 20, 169 yards) gave the Shamrocks the five-point halftime edge.

Molina was a force of nature. He gashed the Raiders for 302 yards on 32 carries. He scored touchdown runs of one, 13 and three yards. We really were excited to play, we put the pressure on the offensive line to come out and play today, Molina said. You have to give them credit. They created a lot of big holes. It was fun to run out there.

Glenbard South (6-4) stayed close for two and a half quarters. Following the kickoff return score, quarterback Alex Jeske threw a beautiful 65-yard touchdown pass to Clark Gary that pulled the Raiders within 20-15.

Behind Molina, the Shamrocks threw the hammer down. The kickoff return provided the spark, but Molinas pounding style proved to be the bread and butter. Galante challenged the Shamrocks to play up to their abilities in the second half. Even when teams have stacked the box against us, we have shown the ability to run the ball, he said. Its the straw that stirs the drink. I thought, in the second half, we came out and played our style of football.

After the Raiders score, Molina answered with a 37-yard burst that set up his own 13-yard touchdown run down the right sideline. His 22-yard run keyed his third touchdown.

I think we kind of underestimated Glenbard South in the first half, and thats probably why we were a little sluggish, Molina said.

Running back Matt Loos scored on a five-yard jaunt set up by running back Zach Smiths 43-yard halfback option pass to Justin Gjerazi that knotted the score at 7-7 early in the second quarter. Glenbard South took its only lead, 9-7, on a safety after St. Patrick snapped the ball out of the end zone late in the second quarter.

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Bears DL Akiem Hicks making the most of a chance the Saints never gave him

Bears DL Akiem Hicks making the most of a chance the Saints never gave him

Living well is indeed the best revenge, and sometimes nothing feels sweeter than proving doubters wrong. Akiem Hicks is savoring that exact feeling.

When the New Orleans Saints made Hicks their third-round pick in the 2013 draft, they typecast their big (6-5, 318 pounds) young defensive lineman as a one-trick pony.

“There were people in New Orleans that said, ‘You can’t rush the passer,’” Hicks recalled after the Bears’ win Sunday over the San Francisco 49ers. “They told me from my rookie year, ‘You’re going to be a run-stopper.’”

This despite Hicks collecting 6.5 sacks and 3 pass breakups as a senior at Regina in Canada. The Saints forced Hicks into the slot they’d decided he fit – nose tackle – then eventually grew disenchanted with him and traded him to New England last year – where he collect 3 sacks in spot duty.

Interestingly, Bears GM Ryan Pace was part of the Saints’ personnel operation. Whether Pace agreed with coaches’ handling of Hicks then isn’t known, but when Pace had the chance to bring Hicks to Chicago for a role different than the one the Saints forced Hicks into, Pace made it happen.

Pace likely saw those New England sacks as a foreshadowing or a sign that the New Orleans staff had miscast Hicks. The Bears defensive end now is under consideration for NFC defensive player of the week after his 10-tackle performance against San Francisco. Signing with the Bears last March 13 as a free agent was the career break Hicks has craved. For him it was a career lifeline.

“They have given me the ability to go rush the passer,” Hicks said. “So I love this organization – [GM] Ryan Pace, coach Fox, Vic [Fangio, defensive coordinator] – for just giving a guy the capability to put it out there and do what you feel like you can do.”

[MORE BEARS: Back from scary concussion, Leonard Floyd playing like franchise pass rusher Bears craved]

Hicks has been showing what he can do, to quarterbacks. For him the best part of win over the 49ers was the two third-quarter sacks of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Those sacks gave the massive lineman, who the Saints said couldn’t rush the passer, 6 sacks for the season – more than any member of the Saints defense this season. It has been a classic instance of putting a player in position to maximize his skills, not jam someone into a bad fit.

“Akiem has been in a couple of different types of packages before with New Orleans and New England,” said coach John Fox. The Patriots switched from a long-time 3-4 scheme to a 4-3 but “we’re more of a New England-type style. But we’re playing him more at end; he played mostly a nose tackle [in New Orleans]. He’s fit really well for us as far as his physical stature.

"But he does have pass rush ability. It shows a little about his athleticism. So he’s got a combination of both.”

That “combination” has been allowed to flourish at a new level, and the Bears’ plan for Hicks was the foundation of why he wanted to sign in Chicago as a free agent. The Bears do not play their defensive linemen in a clear one-gap, get-upfield-fast scheme tailored to speed players. Nor do they play a classic two-gap, linemen-control-blockers scheme typically built on three massive space-eaters on the defensive line.

They play what one player has called a “gap and a half” system, which requires being stout as well as nimble.

One Hicks rush on Kaepernick featured a deft spin move out of a block, not the norm for 336-pound linemen. He got one sack with a quick slide out of a double-team.

“I’m not freelancing,” Hicks said. “But I’m rushing ‘fast.’ There’s a portion of the defense where you have the [run] responsibility and don’t have the freedom or liberty [to rush]. It’s a great system for me and I love what they’ve let me do.”