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Marco Maldonado’s sensational record-setting performance leads Loyola past Brother Rice

Maldonado picked the Ramblers up on his shoulders and willed them to a 46-43 win at No. 3 Brother Rice on Friday. 

Loyola’s Marco Maldonado (4) runs through Brother Rice’s defense.
Loyola’s Marco Maldonado (4) runs through Brother Rice’s defense.
Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

It will be unbelievable to the fans who watched him Friday night on the South Side, but Loyola running back Marco Maldonado doesn’t have a college scholarship offer. At least he didn’t immediately after picking the Ramblers up on his shoulders and willing them to a 46-43 win at No. 3 Brother Rice.

Maldonado was spectacular. The senior had 38 carries for 335 yards and four touchdowns. There were more than a dozen highlight-reel runs, dodging and darting through the Crusaders’ defense and then bashing into the end zone for the final few crucial yards.

“I think that’s the best performance I’ve seen,” Loyola coach John Holecek said. “Vaugn [Pemberton] had so many good ones last year, but that was special.”

The 335 yards is a Loyola record. James Bradley ran for 330 yards in a game in 2001.

Maldonado broke his collarbone on one of the final plays of the game. He was too despondent to talk, a shame after such an amazing performance. But he was understandably devastated that he picked up an injury before his college future was secure.

“It’s just a collarbone, so it isn’t career ending or something,” Holecek said. “But it will be amazing if he doesn’t have a ton of offers after this game. That was amazing.”

The Ramblers (4-0, 1-0 CCL/ESCC Blue) needed every yard Maldonado provided because Brother Rice quarterback Jack Lausch matched his heroics.

Lausch was 16-for-26 passing for 289 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. He had 20 carries for 137 yards and three touchdowns.

But it was when and how Lausch pulled it off. All hope seemed lost for Brother Rice (3-1, 0-1) when Maldonado powered in for a touchdown with 4:24 to play that put the Ramblers ahead 46-36.

Lausch wouldn’t be denied. The Notre Dame recruit drove the Crusaders 97 yards in less than a minute, capping the drive with a seven-yard touchdown pass to Marty O’Keefe.

“I knew it was going to be a dogfight,” Lausch said. “This game hurts a lot but this was a playoff atmosphere and we are going to come back stronger.”

Loyola quarterback Jake Stearney was 14-for-24 for 196 yards and one touchdown. He also ripped off a 49-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. But the junior knew it was Maldonado’s night.

“I told you guys at the beginning of the year that Marco would be better than [Pemberton],” Stearney said. “That was one hell of a performance. He’s a special guy.”

The teams basically traded touchdowns throughout the game. Brother Rice made three crucial mistakes. Lausch threw an interception in the first quarter and there was a fumble in the second quarter. Then on third-and-eight with the entire game on the line the Crusaders’ defense had Stearney stopped short of the first down mark. But there was a face mask penalty on the tackle, which basically ended the game.

“Defensively we played horrible,” Brother Rice coach Brian Badke said. “We weren’t prepared in a couple areas and they exposed us. But we will be back.”