This Week 9 matchup had been circled on calendars all over the area for months. Brother Rice and Loyola both tore through the season and arrived on the South Side on Friday with unblemished records.
So much was on the line: the Catholic League Blue title, the top seed in the state playoffs in Class 8A and possibly even the Sun-Times Player of the Year award.
The Crusaders’ vaunted offense put on a show, but Loyola’s Jake Marwede was just too much for their defense to handle. Loyola coach John Holecek has repeatedly called Marwede the best player in the state, and he looked the part again on Friday.
When Marwede lines up as quarterback, area defenses shudder with fear. The 6-5, 240 pound senior is virtually unstoppable when he runs the ball and he’s always a threat to pass. There hasn’t been a team in the area able to figure out a way to slow down the Ramblers’ multi-talented big man.
That was the case again Friday. Marwede ran for five touchdowns to lead top-ranked Loyola to a 48-37 win against the Crusaders.
Marwede finished with 13 carries for 83 yards. He scored touchdowns on runs of four, four, 12, two and three yards. Marwede completed the only pass he made, a 21-yarder to Michael McFadden.
Brother Rice’s offense put up massive numbers. Quarterback Dino Borrelli finished 27-for-40 for 392 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Crusaders wide receiver Ricky Smalling, a top Player of the Year contender, had 12 receptions for 119 yards. Brother Rice wide receiver Branden Houston was spectacular, finishing with 10 catches for 210 yards with touchdown catches of 37 and 46 yards.
But all that wasn’t enough. The Crusaders committed four crucial mistakes. Borrelli fumbled while being sacked in the second quarter. Houston fumbled after a long gamin the third quarter, there was a dropped punt attempt in the fourth quarter and then Borrelli threw an interception on the final drive of the game that sealed the win for the Ramblers (9-0, 4-0).
Loyola has won 26 consecutive games and is clearly the area’s gold standard. The Ramblers showed their depth on Friday. Starting running back Hamid Bullie was injured midway through the first quarter.
Kyle Rock picked up the slack, rushing 16 times for 113 yards. But he went down injured in the third quarter. That’s when Loyola turned to Marwede as the wildcat quarterback option.
Ramblers quarterback Tommy Herion was 18-for-32 for 177 yards. He rushed for a five-yard touchdown at the end of the second quarter. Senior David Terrell, who finished with eight receptions for 104 yards, was his primary target.
The Crusaders (8-1, 3-1) led 37-34 at the start of the third quarter, but couldn’t find an answer to Marwede at wildcat quarterback. He scored the final two touchdowns of the game, putting the hammer down on a wild game that featured ten lead changes.
It’s possible that Loyola and Brother Rice could meet again in the Class 8A quarterfinals. Get the scoreboard ready.