AURORA – Coming into Friday night’s critical matchup with Marmion, the St. Francis football team had hopes of getting back into strong playoff position with a victory against the Cadets.
For a half, the Spartans looked like they were on their way.
A strong second half from Marmion’s defense and a pair of Cadets scores – one rushing and one passing – allowed Marmion to overcome a 13-point halftime deficit and clinch a playoff spot with a 26-20, comeback win.
Marmion (6-1, 4-1 Suburban Christian Conference Blue), fresh off a convincing road win over Aurora Christian, got down early against a St. Francis squad reeling from three consecutive defeats.
Playing for their playoff lives, the Spartans (3-4, 1-4) got a pair of first half rushing touchdowns from James Butler – including a 63-yard burst – that helped the Spartans open up a 20-7 halftime lead.
Butler, who is playing in his lone season for St. Francis after transferring from Bartlett, added a 1-yard plunge early in the second quarter that put the Spartans up, 14-0.
Marmion looked like it had seized back momentum after Tyler Eberth picked off St. Francis quarterback Zach Prociuk and returned the ball 95 yards for a touchdown to cut the Spartans’ lead to 14-7.
The Cadets held strong on St. Francis’ next offensive possession, forcing a fourth-and-3 from midfield. But St. Francis backup quarterback Clint Bobowski took the direct snap in punt formation and rumbled nine yards to keep the Spartans’ drive alive. Four plays later, Prociuk punched in a 1-yard keeper with 21 seconds left in the first half, giving the Spartans a 20-7 lead.
That was the last time St. Francis would score on the night. Marmion junior Jordan Glasgow found the end zone on a 1-yard run with 9:21 left in the third quarter that made it 20-14 St. Francis.
After forcing a St. Francis punt, Marmion went 60 yards in 11 plays as quarterback Brock Krueger found Eberth on a 5-yard touchdown grab. The Cadets missed an opportunity to take the lead as the extra point was blocked, leaving the score tied at 20.
Marmion stripped the ball from Butler on St. Francis’ next possession, taking over at the Spartans’ 40-yard line with 5:08 to go.
Five plays later, Krueger plowed in for a 1-yard TD run. Again, Marmion missed the extra point, making it 26-20.
With no timeouts, St. Francis took to the air on its final possession. Facing a fourth-and 21, Prociuk’s pass was batted down at the line of scrimmage to seal the Marmion win.
The game took a scary turn early in the third quarter as St. Francis defensive back Steven Fassnacht was carted off the field and taken to a hospital after a jarring hit from Marmion running back Josh Meyers. As of press time, there was no word on Fassnacht’s condition.
MARMION 26, ST. FRANCIS 20
Marmion 0 7 7 12 – 26 St. Francis 7 13 0 0 – 20
HOW THEY SCORED
SF – Butler 63 run (Hart kick), 0:31Second quarter
SF – Butler 1 run (Hart kick), 8:07 MA – Eberth 95 INT return (DeMoss kick), 3:14 SF – Prociuk 1 run (kick blocked), 0:21Third quarter
MA – Glasgow 1 run (DeMoss kick), 9:21Fourth quarter
MA – Eberth 5 pass from Krueger (kick failed), 6:18 MA – Krueger 1 run (kick failed), 3:47
RUSHING – Marmion: Glasgow 20-38, Breen 3 minus 3, Meyers 7-72, Krueger 14-85, Montalbano 3-4, Olabi 4-29. Totals: 52-225. St. Francis: Prociuk 4-6, Butler 20-131, Fassnacht 3-24, Bobowski 1-9, Smith 2-6 Totals: 31-170.PASSING – Marmion: Krueger 4-13-1-30. St. Francis: Prociuk: 12-27-1-105.RECEIVING – Marmion: Meyers 1-3, Olabi 1-14, Glasgow 1-8, Eberth 1-5. St. Francis: Hart 4-24, Fassnacht 2-16 Connelly 2-29, Zito 1-18, Hanson 2-13, Butler 1-5. TOTAL YARDS – Marmion 255, St. Francis 275