LA GRANGE PARK – Two weeks ago, Nazareth hit the low point of the season in a 42-point loss on its home field to an undefeated Joliet Catholic team.
They made sure not to repeat that feeling against another undefeated team Saturday. The Roadrunners won a grind-it-out game 10-7 against Notre Dame in a rain-soaked homecoming game to improve to 4-2 overall and vastly improve their playoff chances.
“Huge win, especially after two weeks ago today on this field it was pretty devastating,” said Naz coach Tim Racki. “It was as low as you can get. The rebound win at Carmel, which we’ve never done, was big but I told the guys we haven’t beat a team with a winning record so beating an undefeated Notre Dame team who is very physical is a big confidence boost for these kids.”
Freshman running back Ivory Kelly-Martin scored on a 25-yard touchdown run to break a scoreless tie in the third quarter. The Roadrunners (2-2 in the East Suburban Catholic Conference) led 10-0 before the Dons (5-1, 2-1 ESCC) converted a fumble into a 1-yard touchdown run with 7:12 remaining in the game.
Nazareth attempted to run out the clock with a long drive built exclusively on running plays, but the rain and lightning came with 2:14 left and forced an 80-minute delay. When the teams returned to the field, Naz needed to convert a third-and-6 to keep the drive going; Kelly-Martin ran for 6 yards on fourth-and-2 to seal the game.
“It was a perfect game for us,” the freshman said. “Our defense was amazing out there. Our line was blocking like crazy. The final two minutes we pushed them. It was a great game.”
The star of the day was the Roadrunner defense, which limited a Notre Dame offense that hadn’t scored less than 20 points yet this season. Dons’ running back Chris James, who has over a dozen Division I offers, couldn’t get in the end zone.
“We had a spy on him, but we knew we had to pay attention to the other playmakers they have as well,” Racki said. “We threw a lot at them defensively with a lot of young kids.”
Nazareth hosts another undefeated team, Benet, on Saturday but only needs to beat winless Riverside Brookfield and 2-4 Marian Catholic to clinch a playoff spot.
“I’m pretty sure we’re going to make the playoffs this year,” Kelly-Martin said. “That’s what our goal is so far.”
Nazareth 10, Notre Dame 7
Naz rushing leaders
• Ivory Kelly-Martin 10 carries, 105 yards, TD
• Cyle Tucker 11 carries, 75 yards
• Julian Love 15 carries, 53 yards
Week 7: Nazareth vs. Benet
When: 1:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: 1209 W. Ogden Ave., La Grange Park
Records: Nazareth 4-2 (2-2 ESCC), Benet 6-0 (3-0 ESCC)