Marist running back John McAuliffe scores the first touchdown of the night during the RedHawks’ 21-20 loss to Joliet Catholic on Sept. 29. Photo by Xavier Sanchez

Marist running back John McAuliffe scores the first touchdown of the night during the RedHawks’ 21-20 loss to Joliet Catholic on Sept. 29. Photo by Xavier Sanchez

Football | JCA rallies past Marist

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By Xavier Sanchez
Correspondent

Losers of three consecutive games and needing a victory over Joliet Catholic to keep its IHSA playoff hopes alive, Marist was ready for the Hilltoppers.

But JCA withstood a fast start by the RedHawks and scored late in the fourth quarter to rally for a 21-20 win on Sept. 29 in Mount Greenwood. The Hilltoppers’ Andres Munoz capped a 98-yard drive by throwing a touchdown pass to Adrian Washington for the winning score.

The loss was the fifth of the season for Marist (1-5, 0-2 CCL-ESCC Green), leaving them with virtually no chance of qualifying for the IHSA postseason. Marist has made the playoffs in 13 of the past 14 seasons and has not missed the postseason since 2014.

A four-win team can make the playoffs, but only if there are not enough five-win teams among the 256 qualifiers in eight classes. Such instances are rare and, in Marist’s case this season, unlikely to occur.

RedHawks’ coach Ron Dawczak is proud of his team and the way they battled until the final whistle.

“When it came down to it, Joliet Catholic made plays to extend drives and made the play down in the red zone to score the (game-winning) touchdown. “I’m proud of the way our kids fought. They left everything on the field and they had nothing left in the tank when it was over.”

Marist took a 14-0 first-quarter lead after scoring on a 6-yard run by John McAuliffe on the game’s opening drive, then getting a 10-yard TD pass from Owen Winters to Talen White.

The combination of offense and an aggressive defense shifted momentum the RedHawks’ way early.

“Marist’s defense was one of the top-tier defenses we’ve faced,” Washington said.

Munoz found Washington in the end zone for their first scoring hookup of the game less than a minute into the second quarter, but the RedHawks held a 17-7 lead at halftime.

Munoz once again found Washington, this time from 23 yards out, to bring the Hilltoppers to within three in the third quarter.

Marist had two fourth quarter drives that advanced into the red zone, but could muster only a Kamil Kokot field goal to extend their lead 20-17. Failing to put points on the board on the other drive proved significant.

The game ended with the Hilltoppers tackling Devin Hamilton at their 9-yard line after a 48-yard reception. Time simply ran out on the RedHawks.

Marist will host De La Salle in a non-conference matchup on Friday.

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