Montini ousts JCA for second straight year

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Montini ousts JCA for second straight year

Dick Goss
SeasonPass.com

Among Montinis many assets is strong-legged place-kicker Andrew Harte.

The Broncos had driven into position to tie Joliet Catholic in the final minute. They were facing a fourth-and-2 at the Hilltoppers 17-yard line.

However, when you are in pursuit of a fourth consecutive state championship and you have senior Joe Borsellino on your side, you believe.

Borsellino took the snap in Montinis spread formation and followed senior running back Dmitri Taylor up the middle for a six-yard gain to the 11. Taylor gained 10 on the next play and Borsellino sneaked in with 30.8 seconds remaining to give the Broncos a 40-37 victory Saturday afternoon in a classic Class 5A semifinal at ATI Field at Joliet Memorial Stadium.

We call the play a 14-follow, and D.T. (Taylor) looked at me and said, Follow my (butt) to state, Borsellino said of the key fourth-and-2 conversion. We knew we could pick it up. Montini is all about going for the win.

We were going to the for the win, there was no other way, Montini coach Chris Andriano said. We did not come here to play overtime. We came here to win.

Besides, both teams were completely exhausted.

It was that kind of a semifinal.

Much like the 2011 5A championship game, when No. 15 Montini beat No. 19 Joliet Catholic 70-45, the Broncos (11-2) had little luck containing Joliet Catholic senior wingback Ty Isaac. He rushed for 277 yards in 30 carries, scored three touchdowns and became the schools career rushing leader with 5,315 yards, surpassing the 5,070 of J.R. Zwierzynski.

That means Isaac ran for 792 yards and scored nine touchdowns in two meetings with Montini in the last 12 months, yet both efforts were in defeat.

Joliet Catholic (8-5), which had a 528-440 advantage in total yards as wingback Tyler Reitz rushed for 123, scored on every one of its possessions of the first half, except for when it ran out the clock in the final minute. The Hilltoppers upped a 28-14 halftime lead to 31-14 midway through the third quarter when Brian Bravo kicked a 33-yard field goal. But Montini was far from finished.

Borsellino, who scored three second-half touchdowns, climaxed a touchdown drive, catching a six-yard pass from Alex Wills to make it 31-21 and setting the stage for the Montini defense.

Joliet Catholic was at its 45 with a fourth-and-1 late in the third quarter when coach Dan Sharp decided to go for the first down. Isaac wanted the ball and got it, but he was met by Joe Nitti, Nicholas Sanzeri and Dylan Thompson for a yard loss.

It was the way this game was going, Sharp explained. We had confidence we would get the first down. Even if we punted there, I dont know if 40 more yards would have mattered. We couldnt stop them in the second half.

Four plays later, on the first play of the fourth quarter, Borsellino scored from nine yards out to make it 31-27.

On Joliet Catholics next possession, after two first downs, Thompson forced an Isaac fumble that Montinis Charles Long recovered at the Montini 44. On the next play, Wills hit Taylor on a bubble screen that he turned into a 56-yard touchdown up the right sideline to put Montini ahead 34-31. Taylor rushed for 157 yards, caught three passes for 63 and scored three times.

Playing against Ty Isaac only motivated me, Taylor said. Hes great. I just wanted to show, in my eyes, whos better.

Joliet Catholic responded, driving to a 22-yard Isaac touchdown run with 4:41 left for a 37-34 lead. That, however, left too much time for a Montini offense that scored on every possession of the second half.

The Hilltoppers tried to move the ball in the final half-minute behind quarterback Craig Slowik (8-of-12 passing for 114 yards), but their season ended at the Montini 43-yard line.

Blackhawks break late tie to best rival Blues

Blackhawks break late tie to best rival Blues

Patrick Kane scored his 24th goal of the season and Artem Anisimov scored the game-winner as the Blackhawks beat the St. Louis Blues 4-2 on Sunday night.

The Blackhawks have won nine of their last 10 and are one point within the Minnesota Wild, whose bye ends on Monday night. Duncan Keith recorded a secondary assist for his 500th career point. Scott Darling, starting for Corey Crawford (illness), stopped 30 of 32 shots.

The Blackhawks got off to a 2-0 start in the first 12 minutes of the game, thanks to Jonathan Toews' 16th goal of the season and Kane's power-play goal. But the Blues kept chipping away and forced a tie game by the end of the second period.

But the second line, which hasn't been quite as productive lately, got in on the act late in the third. Panarin threw a perfect feed to Anisimov, who scored his 22nd of the season with 5:20 remaining in regulation.

Tanner Kero added an empty-net goal with 2.6 seconds remaining.

Illini keep NCAA tournament hopes afloat with dominant win over Nebraska

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USA TODAY

Illini keep NCAA tournament hopes afloat with dominant win over Nebraska

Illinois' last-ditch effort to reach the NCAA tournament is still alive.

The Illini won for the third straight time and the fourth time in their last five games Sunday night, using a monstrous second half to fly past the Nebraska Cornhuskers by a 73-57 score in Lincoln.

Illinois started the Big Ten season 3-8, but with this recent surge it's up to 7-9 and with two regular-season games remaining has at the very least given itself a much better position in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament and perhaps has played itself into a spot on the NCAA tournament bubble.

Defense has been the driving force throughout this recent stretch, and Sunday was no different, with Nebraska scoring just 57 points, the second straight game in which Illinois has held its opponent under 60 points.

But offense told the story Sunday, with the Illini catching fire in the second half and shooting the lights out at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Illinois shot 59.1 percent from the field over the final 20 minutes, including a stellar 8-for-13 from 3-point range. The Illini outscored the Huskers by a 43-29 margin after halftime.

All in all, Illinois shot 48.1 percent on the night and 13-for-26 from behind the 3-point line. The Illini's 73-point output was their highest since Jan. 25.

Malcolm Hill had a game-high 19 points and moved past Cory Bradford for fifth place on the program's all-time scoring list. Tracy Abrams joined Hill in double figures with 13 points. Hill and Abrams each hit four 3-pointers. Maverick Morgan scored 12 points.

Tai Webster scored 17 points for Nebraska, the only Husker in double figures on a poor offensive night. The team shot 37.5 percent from the field and went just 4-for-15 from 3-point range.

Illinois still seems like a bit of a longshot to make the NCAA tournament given its 17-12 overall record and the weakness of the Big Ten this season. But things are getting real late in the season. This surge could very well help the Illini end their three-year tournament drought and could do big things for head coach John Groce, who has had his job status talked about all season long.

Illinois' final two regular-season bouts come this week against Michigan State and at Rutgers.