Soph Robert Brazziel leads Montini to comeback win against Loyola

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Montini’s Robert Brazziel (7) throws a pass. Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times.

Twice the game was on the line and twice sophomore quarterback Robert Brazziel came through for Montini on Saturday in Wilmette.

First was the do-or-die fourth-and-goal from the 3 with 5:18 to play. Brazziel connected with Nate Muersch for a touchdown. It pulled the Broncos within one point of Loyola.

“With Nate that was there all day,” Brazziel said. “A 6-5 wide receiver against a 5-10 corner.”

Then he freelanced, scrambled and found Matthew Ross on the two-point conversion attempt to give Montini a 28-27 comeback win against the Ramblers.

“I rolled out and saw [Ross] coming around the back of the end zone and I just dropped it in to him,” Brazziel said. “It was off the top of my head.”

The Broncos are one of the area’s best football programs. They’ve won six state titles. But none of those teams beat Loyola. A reporter asked Brazziel if he was nervous at all during the game.

“No sir,” Brazziel said. “I just go out there and do it. It’s my job, like you have a job. You aren’t nervous to ask me questions.”

Brazziel and junior Deontay Bell share time at quarterback. Bell is a better runner and usually plays in goal line situations.

Montini coach Mike Bukovsky made the right call sticking with Brazziel in the key moment of the game. Then he made the gutsy call to go for the two-point conversion and the win instead of the tie.

“I was kinda surprised,” Muersch said. “But he says anytime we get the opportunity we are going to go for two. He trusts our guys to win and we did.”

Brazziel was 8-for-15 passing for 179 yards and three touchdowns. Bell was 2-for-6 passing for 89 yards and had eight carries for 62 yards.

Muersch had six receptions for 113 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Scott West had three catches for 107 yards and one touchdown.

Montini (6-0, 2-0 Catholic League Blue) trailed 21-0 early in the first quarter. It looked like the game was headed to a running clock. Then Illinois recruit Nick Fedanzo returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown. That ignited the Broncos.

“I had my head down before that,” Brazziel said. “My teammates told me to keep my head in the game. We scored on the kickoff return and after that it was our momentum.”

Loyola (3-3, 0-2) held Fedanzo to just 37 yards on 17 carries.

“In the second half throwing the ball worked out way better than running so we started opening up our playbook,” Brazziel said. “I guess they were expecting us to run on the goal line and we threw.”

Ramblers quarterback Jack Fallon was 6-for-21 passing for 62 yards and one interception. Running back Trevor Cabanban had 20 carries for 80 yards and one touchdown.

“This means a lot for the team and community and alumni and everything,” Brazziel said. “They had the momentum. They played with their hair on fire. We had to come out and match that.”

Loyola needs to win two of its next three games to qualify for the playoffs. It has road games against De La Salle and St. Rita and hosts Providence in Week 9.

“This year has been nothing but bad luck and bad breaks and injuries since the start,” Ramblers coach John Holecek said. “Fight, get better, crawl into the playoffs. We obviously aren’t a bad team. We lost to three good teams. We should be in the playoffs if we keep battling.”

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