The Crusaders rebounded from their tough loss against Marist, defeating Bishop Mac in Kankakee on Friday by a score of 30-25. Though it was quite a different atmosphere compared to the previous week, the Crusaders still fought hard and triumphed despite a solid effort from their opponent.
Rice’s offense started off hot, picking up where they left off last Friday. On their first possession, a long reception by Marcus Jones set up a red zone touchdown reception for Luke Mueller, and an early 7-0 lead for Brother Rice. A quick Irish punt gave the Crusaders good field position, and they would capitalize. Quarterback Matt Page hooked up with receivers Malik Moody and Chris Rozell before handing the ball off to Marcus Jones for a five-yard rushing touchdown. The Crusaders now led 14-0 after only five minutes of game play.
Everything was going Rice’s way until sophomore Alex Alarcon muffed an Irish punt deep in Rice territory. From there, a facemask penalty against the Crusaders and a deep run by Irish QB Jared Marcotte led to the first Bishop Mac score of the evening, which cut Rice’s lead in half.
The next Irish possession would conclude in similar fashion. A couple big plays for Bishop Mac and a couple detrimental Crusader penalties led to a short rush touchdown for Bishop Mac’s Jonnie Evans. However, a botched PAT saw the Crusaders retain a 14-13 lead with just over four minutes remaining in the half.
Rice would need only two of those four minutes to extend their lead. Aided by a long rush by Jones, Page found Mueller yet again, this time for a 22-yard touchdown reception. As a result, the Crusaders held a 21-13 halftime advantage, but the Irish were not about to call it quits.
Rather, they took advantage of a second half in which Rice failed to score for nearly seventeen minutes. On their first possession of the third quarter, the Irish used a huge 52-yard rush by Evans to set up a 1-yard rushing touchdown for Dalton Major. A failed two-point conversion attempt made the score 21-19 in favor of Rice.
To start the final quarter, Page was intercepted by Bishop Mac’s Robbie Odeneal. A 26-yard reception by Jake Tutt led to another red zone rush TD for Dalton Major, and the Irish found themselves with their first lead of the game, 25-21.
It was then that QB Matt Page decided he had seen enough. Page took over on Rice’s ensuing possession, rushing the ball himself five times. He picked up two key first downs for his team, and finished off the possession with a critical 23-yard touchdown that regained the lead for Rice, by a score of 27-25.
With a defense highlighted by the strong performances of linemen Marcus Cheatom and Brian Craft, Rice forced the Irish into a short punt. With outstanding field position, another huge rush by Page led to a field goal by Brian Kane, and a 30-25 Crusader lead.
Bishop Mac’s last second hopes were dashed when Crusader defenseman Cesar Delatorre intercepted his second Irish pass of the game. After Page took a knee, Brother Rice walked off the field victorious, moving to a record of 2-1. Though they were not particularly pleased with their performance as a team, Coach Badke and the Crusaders recognize that every win is a much-needed asset in a tough Catholic League Blue.
The Crusaders will look to pick up their first win against a Catholic League opponent next Friday, as they play away from home against St. Rita. Brother Rice will try to avenge their homecoming defeat from last season, when they fell to the Mustangs in a heated contest.