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Football: Michael Love, Roadrunners ready to put Marist loss behind them

Nazareth loses matchup of ESCC unbeatens 42-0

Nazareth Academy's Michael Love fumbles the ball after a no-call horse collar tackle in an away game against Marist on Friday, Oct. 6, 2017. Bill Ackerman - For Shaw Media
Nazareth Academy's Michael Love fumbles the ball after a no-call horse collar tackle in an away game against Marist on Friday, Oct. 6, 2017. Bill Ackerman - For Shaw Media

Michael Love won't dwell on one moment.

Love, a junior who can play running back, receiver or defensive back, is one of the reasons why Nazareth has made a big jump this year.

The Roadrunners, 6-5 a year ago, won their first six games.

A matchup of East Suburban Catholic unbeatens Friday at Marist turned into a humbling 42-0 loss to the Class 8A powerhouse, but Love plans on learning from it.

"It pretty much can't get worse than this," Love said. "We have to bounce back, of course. When things don't go your way you can't quit. We have to respond next week."

Nazareth (6-1, 4-1) has take your breath away skill-position players, of which Love is one.

Senior Devin Blakley, who already has offers from Iowa State and Bowling Green, is another. Diamond Evans, a rangy junior receiver/cornerback is another. With that skill, Nazareth had averaged 28 points per game in its last five wins.

The Roadrunners are at their best when they can get their speed on the outside. Blakley showcased it on a 21-yard run, and again on a 16-yard run on Nazareth's first drive at Marist.

It stalled inside the Marist 10-yard line, though, and a field goal went wide left.

Marist, who scored first on Delonte Harrell's 7-yard touchdown on the game's opening drive, broke things open thereafter. Harrell scored on a 1-yard plunge, and Mike Markett threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to West Virginia-bound tight end TJ Ivy.

When Charlie Laurencell stepped in front of a Bobby Grimes' pass and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown, it was 28-0 late in the second quarter.

"It got away from us because that's a great freaking 8A playoff football team," Nazareth coach Tim Racki said. "There are some things we need to clean up, and it starts with me in terms of preparation. But I don't know how much we could have done. They keep coming at you."

Love is one to watch for Nazareth going forward, and not just for the pedigree. Love's older brother, Julian, is currently a defensive back for Notre Dame. Kid brother plays defensive back, and showed a few of his moves offensively Friday.

He caught a 16-yard pass from Grimes in the second quarter, and slashed his way for a six-yard run. Two plays later, he juked multiple defenders on another 16-yard catch-and-run.

"We're having a pretty good season," Love said. "This is a downpoint, but we'll respond. We just couldn't finish drives."

One play Friday, in a nutshell, showcased Love's big-play ability and Nazareth's lost night.

Late in the first half, on fourth-and-low, Love hauled in a 41-yard pass along the right sidelines. As he neared the goal line, though, Love had the ball stripped and Marist recovered for a touchback.

"I think he tackled me and my knee hit the ball," Love said. "Nothing went our way. But it's how we respond. We have to put this behind us and move on."

Grimes was 10-for-26 for 143 yards, and Love and Evans each caught four passes for Nazareth, shut out for the first time since Sept. 21, 2013. Blakley had five carries for 48 yards. Harrell ran for 102 yards and Markett threw for 153 for Marist (7-0, 5-0).

"We just couldn't get anything going in any phase of the game," Racki said. "You're looking for that spark, and they (Marist) just suffocate you. They have a solid line and tremendous skill kids."

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