WOODSTOCK – Marian Central’s players milled around the north end of George Harding Field in stunned disbelief.
After losing to Montini in the playoffs three consecutive years, the Hurricanes figured this season was their turn. They had an unstoppable quarterback, a strong defense and had pummeled the Broncos in Week 7 of the regular season.
“We thought this was our year,” Marian coach Ed Brucker said.
Montini thought otherwise.
The No. 3-seeded Broncos shocked the No. 2 Hurricanes, 42-27, in their IHSA Class 5A playoff quarterfinal Saturday night and will play at Joliet Catholic in next week’s semifinal.
“This one hurts the most,” Hurricanes defensive end Liam Kirwan said. “After our freshman year, coach [Darren] Fortin said this class had the potential to be Marian’s next state champion. There was a commitment from everyone.”
Instead, it is Montini (10-2) which is one victory away from playing for a fourth consecutive state title. And Marian (11-1) was again left with the frustration of being knocked out by Montini.
“It’s hard to take,” Brucker said. “This is the toughest one. I felt we were the better team this year. I didn’t think they were that good, but they beat us tonight.”
Marian defeated Montini, 49-24, in Week 7 after the Broncos grabbed a 17-0 lead. This time, Montini showed different looks with wide receiver Mark Gorogianis taking direct snaps and running. Gorogianis gouged the Hurricanes for 240 yards on only eight carries and scored five touchdowns. He had another run of 63 yards on which he did not score.
“We had a tremendous game plan and saw what our weaknesses were after the first game,” Montini coach Chris Andriano said. “Our kids really believed. We executed the game plan to perfection.”
Marian scored on its first two possessions, the second after a Montini fumble, for a 14-0 lead with 4:29 remaining in the first quarter. It looked at that point like the Hurricanes might sweep Montini for the first time since 2006.
Gorogianis then scored on runs of 26 and 28 yards. After Marian scored on quarterback Chris Streveler’s 1-yard sneak, the Broncos came right back to tie the score at 21-21 just before halftime. Montini received the kickoff in the second half and took the lead for good 50 seconds into the third quarter on another Gorogianis run.
Montini running back Dmitri Taylor added 119 yards on 17 carries.
“They’re a really good team, I give them all the respect in the world,” Kirwan said. “It was their night tonight.”
Brucker said he may have underestimated the Broncos’ running game.
“They were more physical than us, and we just didn’t stop the run,” he said. “I’m a little shocked that we couldn’t do that.”
Andriano used quarterback Alex Wills in the regular offense, then interspersed some direct snap plays for Gorogianis to utilize his running ability.
“On offense, we just had to execute,” Gorogianis said. “Our defense played great. We knew we just had to score and keep on them. We had a great game plan and it worked out.”
Streveler finished with 112 rushing yards and 243 passing. Running back Ephraim Lee ran for 102 yards and wide receiver Brett Olson caught nine passes for 92 yards, but the 458 total yards were not enough. Montini ran for 375 yards and had 486 total yards.
“We really thought we could do it,” Streveler said. “They threw a couple of curveballs at us and we didn’t execute. I love these guys, we never gave up. We gave it all for each other and it didn’t work out.”