LOMBARD – Talent and skill is always necessary, but winning a state title requires some luck.
Montini escaped with a 22-21 win against Joliet Catholic in a Class 5A quarterfinal on Saturday afternoon in Lombard. The Broncos will host Sycamore in a semifinal next weekend.
The Broncos trailed 21-14 with 5:10 left in the fourth quarter when the offense took over on its own 27-yard-line. Four plays later, all completed passes by quarterback Alex Wills, and Montini got in the end zone.
It wasn’t as simple as that, however.
On the touchdown, Wills rolled to his right and threw up a ball just over three JCA defenders, including one who tipped the pass. Stephen Dennis was able to stay with the deflection, catch the ball and stroll into the end zone.
“As soon as I got it in my hands I knew what to do,” Dennis said. “I couldn’t believe it at first.”
Wills admitted that he just threw the ball up hoping Dennis could make a play.
“We got lucky, but we work on those things so we make our own breaks sometimes with those plays,” Montini coach Chris Andriano said. “Hard to believe it happened that way, but it was great to see our guys come through.”
Andriano cited momentum as a big reason why the Broncos decided to go for two instead of kicking an extra point. On the play, linebacker Nile Sykes ran it in and Montini took the decisive 22-21 lead with 4:11 remaining.
Sykes also scored a touchdown on an 8-yard run earlier in the game and had a sack on defense.
“Whenever my team needs me to step up I like stepping up and making those big plays,” Sykes said. “They needed me to get a big sack, and I got the big sack. They needed me to score a two-point conversion and a touchdown and that’s what I went in there to do.”
Hilltoppers’ running back John Ivlow had 36 carries for 245 yards and three touchdowns. His third TD, a 47-yard run gave JCA a 21-14 lead early in the fourth quarter.