AURORA – Marmion overcame a four-point, fourth-quarter deficit, scoring two touchdowns in the final 11 minutes, to claim a 24-14 nonconference victory Friday over visiting Plainfield Central.
Marmion senior quarterback John Tate did most of the damage with his arm and legs. Tate finished with 46 yards rushing on 13 carries and two touchdowns while completing 10 of 22 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown.
Junior running back Lovell Houston Jr. led the Wildcats with 72 yards rushing on 15 carries. Andrew Black had 65 combined yards and a touchdown.
“Our guys really haven’t been in a position like that before where we have the lead and they’re fighting in the game that late,” Plainfield Central coach John Jackson said. “We’re taking baby steps, but in the end, I think that we will be just fine.”
No one could have asked for a better start to the game for the Wildcats, as on the first play from scrimmage, Marmion’s Nick Auriemma fumbled, and Central’s defensive captain Trevor Smeets recovered to set up the Wildcats on the Cadets’ 45-yard line.
The Wildcats and junior quarterback Marcus Hayes (12 carries for 53 yards, 5 of 11 passing for 44 yards) took advantage when Adam Hayes scored on a 1-yard run five plays later for a 7-0 Central lead with 9:31 left in the first quarter.
“It felt great to get that lead early,” Hayes said. “A lot has changed since last year, and it showed in the first quarter.”
Central led, 7-0, after one quarter and missed an opportunity to extend its lead when Jarod Petrovic missed a 33-yard field-goal attempt with 8:48 left until halftime.
The Wildcats’ defense then made their presence known, forcing Tate to fumble deep inside Marmion territory. One play later, Hayes found Black on a post pattern in the middle of the end zone to extend the Wildcats’ lead to 14-0 with 7:51 left until halftime.
“When we were up 14, I felt like we can’t get cocky because we still have a lot to prove,” Hayes said. “We can’t brag about anything yet, and I think we got a little too excited and started making little mistakes.”
Tate’s 14-yard touchdown run on Marmion’s next offensive possession cut the Wildcats’ lead to 14-7 with 5:51 to go in the half. Connor Hoeft’s 32-yard field made it 14-10 at the half.
Central had an opportunity to extend its lead on the last play of the half, but Hayes’ 3-yard scramble came up short.
With neither team able to score in the third quarter, Marmion seized control on its first possession, putting together a five-play, 77-yard drive that culminated with Tate’s 47-yard pass to Jett Haas that gave the Cadets their first lead, 17-14, with 10:49 left.
“We had flashes of really good stuff going on, but it was the little mistakes, and we just kept shooting ourselves in the foot,” Hayes said.
On its next possession, Central moved the ball down to the Cadets’ 23-yard line. Hayes was sacked, however, and fumbled the ball away. Tate’s 10-yard TD run put it out of reach at 24-14 with 4:17 left to play.
“We had a lot of breakdowns late,” Jackson said. “You have to hand it to Marmion because they kept coming at us. That said, I was pleased with our kids because they kept fighting.”