Joliet Catholic, Jordan Anderson run past Brother Rice in statement win

Illinois recruit Jordan Anderson rushed for 319 yards and six touchdowns in the Hilltoppers’ 56-49 road win.

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Joliet Catholic’s Jordan Anderson (23) runs the ball against Brother Rice.

Joliet Catholic’s Jordan Anderson (23) runs the ball against Brother Rice.

Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

Jordan Anderson is one of the physically largest top-level running backs the area has seen in many years. The 6-3 Joliet Catholic senior used every inch of that power and skill to punish No. 2 Brother Rice on Friday, rushing for 319 yards and six touchdowns in the No. 3 Hilltoppers’ 56-49 win.

After the game Anderson’s big arms were streaked with scratches from the defenders that weren’t able to bring him down.

It was a major statement victory in every sense for the Hilltoppers (7-0). Just a Class 4A school, they proved they could beat the big boys of the CCL/ESCC Blue on the road. And they did it after taking a punch. Brother Rice (5-2) jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first four minutes of the game.

“We never went up against something like that before,” Anderson said. “We had confidence in ourselves. We think we are going to win and that’s what we came out did.”

Anderson had 29 carries and caught one pass for nine yards. The Illinois recruit was quick to spread the praise around to his teammates.

“All of us had a big game,” Anderson said. “Not just me, all of us. The linemen, all of the receivers. It’s just an honor to be on this team.”

Junior running back Vinny Iannantone had 21 carries for 133 yards for Joliet Catholic. Anderson has played just 11 quarters in the Hilltoppers’ seven games this season, missing time with injury and some sitting out when the game was well in hand. Iannantone has stepped up and delivered in those moments and did it again on the big stage.

The other major hero for Joliet Catholic was another Illinois recruit, senior Malachi Hood. In a game with very few defensive highlights, Smith had the biggest.

He grabbed an interception in the end zone in the final seconds of the first half, at a point where both offenses seemed unstoppable.

“Malachi is a hell of a player,” Anderson said. “He came up big just before half, getting that pick to stop them from scoring.”

The game was tied at 35 at halftime. Joliet Catholic scored quickly in the first half but settled in for some relatively longer drives after taking the lead in the second half.

Hilltoppers quarterback Aidan Voss was 3-for-4 passing for 95 yards, including a backbreaking 57-yard touchdown pass to junior Jake Fieldman with 6:48 to play. That put Joliet Catholic ahead by two scores.

“We took a couple of punches there at the beginning and it would have been easy to lie down,” Joliet Catholic coach Jake Jaworski said. “That’s just not who we are. I’m just incredibly proud of the way our guys responded and didn’t flinch.”

Brother Rice quarterback Jack Lausch was 22-for-37 passing for 370 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. He had 14 carries for 58 yards.

It was a special game for Illinois recruits on both sides. Crusaders tight end Henry Boyer, an Illini recruit, had five catches for 68 yards and two touchdowns.

Brother Rice lost a similar game earlier this season, also at home. Loyola knocked the Crusaders off 46-43 and Ramblers’ running back Marco Maldonado ran for 335 yards.

“I was hoping [it would be high scoring] but not too many teams play the style of play we do,” Jaworski said. “Some teams have slung it around on them. Loyola ran all over them a little bit with a different style of play. [Brother Rice] threw a little of everything at us and credit to our line coaches for sorting it out.”

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