Brother Rice’s Marquis Jackson takes a fake punt in for a touchdown against Warren on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (Gary Middendorf / Daily Southtown)

By Steve Millar
Daily Southtown

Backup running back Marquis Jackson was recently put on Brother Rice’s punt team and the Crusaders had a fake punt designed for him.

When Brother Rice coach Brian Badke called for the play Saturday night, Jackson realized it was his moment to shine.

“I knew it was the only time I’d get the chance,” Jackson said. “We’re only going to run that play once, because now when teams see me out there they’ll be looking for it. I knew I had to take advantage.”

Jackson, a junior, certainly did that, dashing 42 yards for a touchdown to spark the host Crusaders to a 20-0 win over Warren in a Class 8A quarterfinal.

Brother Rice (12-0) will visit neighborhood rival Marist (11-1) in a semifinal next week. It’s a rematch from Week 1, when Rice won 20-16.

Jackson’s first-quarter run put the Crusaders ahead early, and the junior couldn’t contain his excitement.

“It was too much fun,” he said. “I spiked the ball and got a penalty. I didn’t even know I did that. The crowd was unreal and it was crazy.”

The Crusaders’ defense was typically dominant, recording its sixth shutout in eight weeks to snap a 10-game winning streak for Warren (10-2).

“(Brother Rice) is a really good team,” Warren coach Bryan McNulty said. “Our defense came out tough against them. But when you can’t score in a quarterfinal game, you’re going to have a tough time.”

Defense and special teams helped Brother Rice overcome a slow offensive night as the Crusaders outgained Warren 196-128.

Defensive end Jalen Rheams had a sack and two tackles for loss for the Crusaders.

“We’ve got a lot of confidence in ourselves,” Rheams said. “We know if we go max effort, all out, we know we can come out victorious.

“Everybody’s special in their own way on our defense, whether it’s pass rushing or pass defending. We can all do different things.”

After a 21-yard TD pass from John Bean to Anthony Arquilla put Brother Rice up 14-0 in the second quarter, Jessi Plunkett’s 21-yard TD run on the Crusaders’ first possession of the third closed the scoring.

“We wanted to control the ball, run behind our line,” Plunkett said. “Everybody did their job.

“When I got in the end zone, it felt great. I knew that was it. I was like, ‘It’s in the bag now.’”

Plunkett finished with 67 yards on 18 carries, while Dylan Summers ran three times for 45 yards.

Phil Hird completed 9 of 25 passes for 77 yards for Warren. Juan DelaCruz had two sacks and Tavion McCarthy had an interception for the Blue Devils.

“This doesn’t take away from everything we accomplished,” McNulty said. “We won 10 straight games, and that’s never been done in school history. Our seniors worked for every single thing they got and I’m so proud of them.”

While Warren looks ahead to next year, the Crusaders will prepare for a rematch with rival Marist.

“We know those guys on 115th Street,” Badke said. “They know us. We’re really looking forward to it.”