GLEN ELLYN – St. Francis offered Marian Central one of its toughest tests of the season Friday.
But when the pressure mounted, the Spartans’ offense sputtered. St. Francis failed to score a touchdown until the final minute of a 28-8 loss to Marian Central in a Suburban Christian Conference Blue Division contest.
“We just weren’t able to score,” St. Francis coach Greg Purnell said. “That was the whole ball game. If we punch it in a couple of times, it’s a whole different game.”
Missed opportunities cost St. Francis (3-3, 1-3) against Marian Central (6-0, 4-0), which entered the week ranked No. 4 in The Associated Press’ Class 5A poll. The Spartans’ run of tough opponents continued after losses to Montini and Aurora Christian this month.
Marian Central scored first on a 13-play, 75-yard drive capped off by a quarterback sneak.
Streveler kept the ball on 4th-and-inches from inside the 1-yard-line, sprinting behind the left side of the offensive line for a touchdown with 4:29 remaining in the first quarter.
After allowing an opening drive touchdown, the Spartans defense toughened.
St. Francis trimmed Marian’s lead to 7-2 by sacking Streveler in the end zone on the first play of the second quarter.
Streveler released a pass across the middle as he fell toward the ground, but officials ruled the play as a safety after a brief discussion in the end zone.
Marian’s defense responded with one of its biggest plays of the game.
The Hurricanes forced a fumble by St. Francis running back T.J. Jackson on first-and-goal from the 2-yard-line.
Marian linebacker Steven Wember recovered the ball in the end zone, but the Hurricanes’ offense failed to capitalize with back-to-back punts before the half.
That changed after halftime as Streveler guided a seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive to start the second half.
Hurricanes running back Ephraim Lee sprinted for a 4-yard touchdown to increase Marian’s lead to 14-2 with 9:40 remaining in the third quarter.
Three series later, Streveler found Kevin Kearley sprinting down the middle of the field for a 26-yard touchdown to make it 21-2.
Streveler connected with Tom Klinger for a 46-yard touchdown on the next series to increase Marian Central’s lead to 28-2 with 7:56 remaining.
The Spartans finally crossed the goal line with 30 seconds to go as Chris Smith punched in a 3-yard touchdown run.
Dan Beck led St. Francis with 70 rushing yards on 14 carries, while Jackson added 64 yards on 17 carries.
Marian Central coach Ed Brucker said St. Francis deserved credit for a hard-fought game.
“We haven’t been challenged that way this year yet,” Brucker said. “I told [ players] it was probably good for us to have a challenge. We got outplayed the first half. We probably should have been behind.
“It was a good win. We’ve just got to keep getting better.”
Kyle Bosch recovered a fumble for St. Francis during a stint on the defensive line. Meanwhile, St. Francis running back-linebacker Jack Petrando remained sidelined because of a knee injury.
Marian Central 28, St. Francis 8
Marian Central 7 0 14 7 - 28
St. Francis 0 2 0 6 - 8
HOW THEY SCORED
M - Streveler 1 run (Faunce kick), 4:29
SF - Safety, 11:54
M - Lee 4 run (Faunce kick), 9:40
M - Kearley 26 pass from Streveler (Shin kick), 0:25
M - Klinger 46 pass from Streveler (Shin kick), 7:56
SF - Smith 3 run (kick failed), 0:30
RUSHING - M: Streveler 13-92, Lee 15-52, Wightman 3-11. Total: 31-155. SF: Beck 14-70, Jackson 17-64, Alcantara 1-54, Robinson 12-50, Marren 1-5, Doyle 1-4, Smith 1-3. 47-250.
PASSING - M: Streveler 10-20-0-214. Total: 10-20-0-214. SF: Robinson 9-22-0-91. Total: 9-22-0-91.
RECEIVING - M: Wightman 3-88, Klinger 1-46, Waytula 3-31, Kearley 1-26, Olson 2-23. Total: 10-214. SF: Beck 5-45, Rowan 2-19, Connelly 1-15, Brundage 1-12. Total: 9-91.
TOTAL TEAM YARDS - Marian Central 369, St. Francis 341
SOPHOMORE SCORE - St. Francis 36, Marian Central 21