It’s no secret around Joliet Catholic which team has defeated the Hilltoppers in the playoffs four out of the last five years — twice in state title games (2009, 2011).
Montini was trying to make it five out of six in the Class 5A second round on Saturday at Joliet.
Once again, the Broncos found a way to defeat the No. 17 Hilltoppers. This time a balanced attack combined with a lopsided fourth quarter was too much during a 27-13 win .
The Broncos (8-3) advance to the quarterfinals, where they will travel to Marian Central.
“They have great players,” Joliet Catholic coach Dan Sharp said. “Not many teams can say they beat them in the playoffs.”
One of those great players is sophomore running back Prince Walker, who carried the ball 16 times for 122 yards, including a pair of touchdown runs. The first was a 2-yard run that tied the game 7-7 with 7:05 left in the second quarter. The other sealed the win, a 26-yarder with 2:44 left for the final score.
“The blocking up front was great — they did a great job all day,” Walker said. “We have a great tradition against JCA and we always seem to show up and play a great game.”
The Hilltoppers (8-3) converted on a risky fourth-and-1 from their own 21-yard line with less than 2 minutes left in the first half. Michael Johnson was lined up at quarterback in the Wildcat formation and shocked everyone by passing it to Harold Davis for a 50-yard gain. That set up a 20-yard field goal by Brian Bravo for a 10-10 halftime score.
Bravo gave the Hilltoppers the lead back 13-10 with a 37-yard field goal with 1:21 left in the third.
Montini dominated the fourth quarter, outscoring the Hilltoppers 17-0. Senior receiver Leon Thornton III scored a 7-yard touchdown run, Mason Weissenhofer added a 26-yard field goal (he also had a 21-yard FG in the second) and Walker’s decisive run accounted for the second-half surge.
Chuck Norgle was 19-for-27 for 181 yards for Montini. Indiana-bound Thornton had six catches for 86 yards while Tyler Millikan also had six catches for 38 yards. Mitch West, Terrell Johnson and Alex Floeckher each had an interception. Patrick Howard added two sacks.
“I don’t know what it is but we have a great coaching staff and kids who are committed to football,” said Montini coach Chris Andriano, who has brought the Broncos five state titles, most recently in 2012. “We just put a great game plan together and our kids are so resilient.”