Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010
By Mike Clark
Joe Kelly had an up-and-down night for Fenwick on Friday, or maybe it's better to call it down-and-up.
Three plays after fumbling away a punt, Kelly picked off a Brother Rice pass in the red zone to help seal a 7-3 win for Fenwick in the Catholic League title game at Toyota Park in Bridgeview.
Kelly had two of the five takeaways for the Fenwick defense as the Friars (7-5) advanced to the Prep Bowl for the first time since 1991. Fenwick will play the winner of Saturday's Public League championship game between Morgan Park and Curie Friday at Soldier Field.
Kelly recovered a Brother Rice fumble in the third quarter and then picked off a pass with 5:21 left in the fourth period. That came just moments after he mishandled a punt to give the Crusaders (6-6) a first down at the Fenwick 20.
"It wasn't my night in punt returns," Kelly said. "I didn't want to let my team down. I had to make a play to make up for it and I did that."
Rice got the ball back one more time after forcing a Fenwick punt, but fumbled it away on the next play and the Friars' Joe Di Somma recovered. Fenwick then ran out the clock.
"We made a lot of mistakes on offense, but our kids performed on defense," said Fenwick coach Joe DiCanio, whose team defeated Rice in Week 9 to earn an IHSA playoff berth. "We weren't hitting on all cylinders, but it's hard to beat the same team twice."
Eric Hulihan gave Fenwick with 4:46 left in the first quarter when he broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage and dashed 39 yards for a touchdown.
The 7-0 lead stood till the fourth quarter, when Rice's Ryan Neilan kicked a 20-yard field goal with 9:42 remaining. Other than that, the defenses dominated to the tune of nine takeaways.
Fenwick recovered four Rice fumbles and had one interception, while the Crusaders recovered four Fenwick fumbles.
"The defense played outstanding," Rice coach Steve Nye said. "We had opportunities offensively. We just didn't do a good job of capitalizing on those opportunities."
Hulihan finished with 82 yards on 13 carries for Fenwick and sophomore quarterback Pat Hart ran 21 times for 80 yards.
Andrew Walker gained 76 yards on 14 carries for Brother Rice. Kevin Salmon recovered two Fenwick fumbles for the Crusaders.