JOLIET – Ke'Von Johnson's calendar did not have him in Joliet on Saturday. He had booked for a college visit to Minnesota State-Moorhead.
But when the Joliet Catholic Academy football game against Benet Academy that was scheduled Friday night at Memorial Stadium was postponed until 9 a.m. Saturday because of a power outage, plans changed.
With fourth-quarter touchdown runs of 36 and 45 yards highlighting his afternoon, Johnson nearly lifted the Hilltoppers to the come-from-behind victory that would have kept their playoff hopes alive.
"One of the Benet coaches told me that if we had three more minutes, we would have beaten them," JCA coach Jake Jaworski said. "Unfortunately, we didn't have three more minutes."
With the Hilltoppers (2-5, 1-4) trailing 17-0, Johnson broke his 36-yard run with 9:58 left to make it 17-7. The 45-yard score came with 4:24 remaining to make it 17-14. However, Benet (5-2, 4-1) recovered JCA's onside kick attempt, then received a fresh set of downs on a pass interference call on a third-and-long.
The Hilltoppers did not regain possession until 1:23 remained, and they were out of timeouts. They reached the Benet 31 on the final play.
"Our guys left it all on the field," Jaworski said. "We just did not take advantage of our opportunities, especially in the first half."
With the game scoreless late in the first quarter, the Hilltoppers had a first-and-goal at the 3. Johnson was stopped a foot short on the fourth-down play from the 1.
"I can't wait to see the film," he said. "I thought I was in. We got knocked back at the end of the play, and I think that's where they said it ended."
Johnson finished with 174 yards in 23 carries. Junior fullback Keenan Hailey chipped in 67 in 19 carries and sophomore Kenyetta Williams added 46 in 12 attempts as the Hilltoppers rushed for 291 of their 342 total yards.
"Keenan is good. He has really been awesome," Johnson said of Hailey. "I can't wait to see how he progresses the rest of his career here."
Meanwhile, the JCA defense limited Benet to 225 yards, only 66 in the second half.
"I can't say enough about the way our defense has played the last couple weeks," Jaworski said. "I couldn't ask for a better effort. We just wasted away our opportunities.
"We're a ground-and-pound team going against a team like Benet that has a heck of a defense. Our best thing is to run right at them. But we weren't able to pop chunk plays that need to have until the second half."
Johnson said the Hilltoppers did move the ball much of the day, "but we had some hiccups that spoiled key drives. I'm really proud of the way we fought, each and every guy. But we shot ourselves in the foot, and we came up short."
As for that visit to Minnesota State-Moorhead, Johnson said, "We have made arrangements."
The JCA defensive line helped limit Benet to 133 rushing yards in 32 attempts and kept good pressure on Redwings quarterback Colin Gillespie.
Benet 0 14 3 0 - 17
JCA 0 0 0 14 - 14
Second: B - Gillespie 1 run (Karam kick) 7:04
Second: B - Hickey 28 run (Karam kick) 1:34
Third: B - Karam 22 FG
Fourth: JCA - Johnson 36 run (Trabold kick) 9:58
Fourth: JCA - Johnson 45 run (Trabold kick) 4:24
Ffirst down - B 11, JCA 18, yards rushing - B 133, JCA 291; yards passing - B 92, JCA 51; total yards - B 225, JCA 342; fumbles lost - B 0, JCA 1; penalties - B 3-37, JCA 8-70.
Rushing: B - Gillespie 14-59, Hickey 5-45, Cooney 8-17, Reid 4-11, Keyes 1-1; JCA - Johnson 23-174, Hailey 19-67, Williams 12-46, Tyrell 8-4.
Passing: B - Gillespie 8-17-0i-92; JCA - Tyrell 4-12-1i-51.
Receiving: B - Cooney 4-63, Eschenbach 1-16, Petersen 1-7, Keyes 1-3, Hickey 1-3; JCA - Johnson 2-30, Butler 2-21.