GLEN ELLYN – The St. Francis football team didn’t have much to complain about after three easy wins to start its 2012 campaign.
Enthusiasm was tempered, however, as the Spartans’ schedule was about to grow exceedingly tougher starting with defending IHSA Class 5A state champion Montini.
The Broncos’ spread offense gave St. Francis fits for most of the night as Montini handed St. Francis its first loss of the season on Friday at College of DuPage, 28-7.
The difference in the game might have been the Spartans’ inability to convert on a pair of red-zone opportunities in the third quarter. Trailing 21-7, St. Francis elected to go for a pair of fourth-down attempts instead of kicking field goals. Both fourth down attempts were thwarted and the Spartans turned the ball over on downs.
“It was the story of the night. We just didn’t execute in the red zone and they did,” St. Francis coach Greg Purnell said. “Their linebackers got their hands on some balls at critical times to take us out of drives. But, that’s the mark of a good football team.”
A 13-play, 80-yard opening drive gave the Spartans a short-lived 7-0 lead. St. Francis’ massive offensive line gave T.J. Jackson and Dan Beck plenty of running room during the drive as quarterback Michael Robinson scored from a yard out for the game’s first score.
Unlike St. Francis’ first three opponents, Montini’s dynamic offense had an answer. The Broncos marched 67 yards in 11 plays as Dimitri Taylor scored on a 3-yard touchdown rumble to tie the game at 7. Taylor, who returned after a Week 1 injury, adds a different option to an already formidable Montini offense.
“He [Taylor] had a big game, he’s tough. He’s very, very good and really adds a new element to our run game,” Montini coach Chris Andriano said. “It’s hard to stop everything we have – we have a lot of weapons.”
Upon tying the game, Montini (3-1, 2-0) stacked nine players in the box and forced Robinson to beat them with his arm. The scheme worked to perfection as Robinson had a tough night throwing the ball, completing 5 of 16 passes with a pair of interceptions.
Despite its inability to get much going, St. Francis (3-1, 1-1 Suburban Christian Conference Blue) still had its chances, especially early in the second half. Trailing 21-7, the Spartans had the ball at the Montini 7-yard line. Jackson was stuffed for a one-yard loss on third down before Robinson was run out of bounds on fourth down.
On the ensuing Broncos possession, a Colin Baumgartner interception gave St. Francis the ball back at the Montini 23-yard line. Once again, the Spartans were turned away. The Spartans moved the ball to the Broncos’ 7, but a sack and three incompletions ended the threat.
“I feel terrible. They gave us a lot of opportunities in the second half and we have to be able to connect on them,” Purnell said. “After the first drive, we just didn’t play good offensive football. When we did throw the football, we weren’t on the money. We’ll get better – Michael [Robinson] is a hard worker.”
Montini quarterback Alexander Wills, who finished 16 of 28 for 154 yards, hit on touchdown passes of 11 and 12 yards in the second quarter to stake the Broncos with a 21-7 lead.
“I felt hyped tonight because this was my first game in three weeks,” Jackson said. “I played this week and I had the power. Our offense had a little more confidence tonight with me coming back. The game plan was to mix it up offensively to confuse the defense. We knew we could run the ball and we did what he had to do.”
St. Francis will travel to Aurora Christian next week for another marquee Suburban Christian Blue battle.
MONTINI 28, ST. FRANCIS 7
Montini 7 14 0 7 – 28
St. Francis 7 0 0 0 – 7
HOW THEY SCORED
SF – Robinson 1 run (Shultz kick), 5:56
MO – Taylor 3 run (Harte kick), 3:30
MO – Dusek 11 pass from Wills (Harte kick), 4:13
MO – Borsellino 12 pass from Wills (Harte kick), 2:42
MO – Taylor 5 run (Harte kick), 2:20
RUSHING – Montini: Taylor 25-173, Wills 2-4, Mucha 1-6, Italia 3-3, Vetter 1-4, Totals: 33-190. St. Francis: Beck 14-67, Jackson 16-72, Robinson 6-8, Smith 1-2, Baumgartner 1-1 Totals: 39-147.
PASSING – Montini: Wills 16-28-2-154 St. Francis: Robinson 5-16-2-26
RECEIVING – Montini: Gorogianis 7-93, Borsellino 4-29, Dusek 2-10, Taylor 3-22, St. Francis: Brundage 3-27, Beck 2- minus 1
TOTAL YARDS – Montini 344, St. Francis 173