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updated: 9/24/2011 1:01 AM

St. Francis roars back against Guerin

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By James Taylor
Daily Herald Correspondent

An emotionally charged St. Francis squad came out a bit jittery on Homecoming night, slipping behind Guerin 6-0 early after a St. Francis fumble.

The early deficit was quickly erased as the Spartans went on to a 58-19 victory Friday night at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn.

St. Francis (4-1) used a punishing ground game to quickly turn the game back in its favor, as the Spartans churned out 339 yards rushing in the first half after the early fumble.

"I don't know what was going on early on," junior running back Jack Petrando said. "I fumbled and we got behind, then we said we're not going to lose this game and we stormed back and scored a lot of touchdowns."

Scoring a lot of touchdowns was a vast understatement as Petrando personally went off for 188 yards and 4 touchdowns in the first half, highlighted by a 74-yard touchdown scamper, en route to a 51-13 halftime lead for the Spartans. In all St. Francis rushed for 408 yards on the night.

"The line blocked great; they won this game," Petrando said. "I got huge holes from the line and great lead blocks from Jeff Rutkowski."

Rutkowski also did his job with the football as he chipped in with 3 rushing touchdowns and one more receiving.

Guerin (2-3) was forced into a one-dimensional offensive attack after getting behind by so much so early in the game.

"Everyone played hard and we came out strong, then started to slow down and play a little lackadaisical," Guerin senior quarterback Tommy Kelly said.

Guerin was victimized by numerous dropped passes that halted any attempt at a comeback.

"I had some bad passes and we dropped some balls, and we should've moved the ball a lot more," Kelly said. "They were moving their secondary around a lot trying to confuse us and it threw us off."

The thrill of a big win on Homecoming will be short-lived for St. Francis as it prepares for rival Montini next week. Montini eliminated St. Francis last season in the first round of the playoffs on a heartbreaking goal line stand, propelling the Broncos to another state championship.

"We're excited for Montini next week, we've been looking forward to that for a long time," Petrando said. "We're focused on practicing hard this week and winning that big game."