Darshon McCullough comes up big for Marist in win over St. Partick

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With games against Nazareth and Joliet Catholic to end the season, Saturday’s East Suburban Catholic game against St. Patrick was vital for Marist.

The RedHawks overcame adversity, a slippery field and a stagnant first-half offense to defeat the Shamrocks 32-20 at Hanson Stadium in Chicago.

“We came in with an attitude, a chip on our shoulder,” junior running back Darshon McCullough said. “We knew we had to make a statement and win big.”

It didn’t look that way early, as Marist (3-3, 2-2) accounted for only three first downs and a total of 85 yards in the first half. Fifty-seven of those 85 yards came on one drive that ended with a Micah Awodiran 3-yard run.

Going into halftime, with the RedHawks down 13-12 and the rain intensifying, the offense decided to pound the ball down the field, running on six of the next seven plays, ending with a Awodiran 6-yard scamper, his second score of the day. However, that would be the end of the sophomore’s day, as he suffered an ankle injury that knocked him out of the game on the ensuing two-point conversion.

Enter McCullough.

“I’m actually a wide receiver and don’t play running back,” he said. “This was the first time I did it, but the team needed me to with Micah and Jawil Aldridge, our two running backs, out.”

And McCullough did everything the team wanted and needed him to, rushing 24 times in the second half and scoring two touchdowns, including a 37-yard run that put the game away.

“I was ready to come in and do what I needed to do,” McCullough said. “I came in, ran hard and we got the win.”

St. Patrick (2-4, 0-4) looked like it would dominate the RedHawks, with the first play of the game going for a 54-yard completion from quarterback Zach Fuller to Matt Smith. A 34-yard pass from Fuller to Pat Devlin on fourth-and 9 gave the Shamrocks a 7-0 lead 1:30 into the game.

Despite outgaining Marist 210-85, St. Patrick was able to put up 13 points due to three three-and-outs and two Fuller interceptions. Fuller (16-for-24, 210 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions) fired his second touchdown to Devlin, this one a 20-yard pass, in the closing seconds.

The RedHawk defense took control in the second half, allowing the Shamrocks only four first downs until that last scoring drive.

“This one was big for our confidence,” said McCullough, who finished with 155 yards on 25 carries. “We needed this one going forward if we want to make the playoffs.”

Mike Olijnyk rushed for 88 yards on 15 carries and scored the other Shamrock TD.

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