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CHAMPAIGN -- When three years ago Montini beat Joliet Catholic to win a state football title, some found it hard to believe.
The Broncos' third straight championship was flat-out unbelievable.
Montini and Joliet Catholic racked up offensive records in an abacus-busting track meet of a Class 5A state championship Montini won 70-45 Saturday at the University of Illinois' Memorial Stadium.
Montini quarterback John Rhode completed 29 of 45 passes for 587 yards and 7 touchdowns, both title-game records. Jordan Westerkamp caught 5 touchdown passes and had 331 receiving yards, both title game records. Already the state leader in career receiving yardage and touchdowns, Westerkamp was credited with 11 catches to tie the career mark of 234.
Joliet Catholic running back Ty Isaac ran for 515 yards and 6 touchdowns -- and lost.
"I've never seen anything like it before, to score that many points and give up that many points," said Montini coach Chris Andriano, down 31-28 at the half. "I'm just glad it did not come down to the last possession, that we had gotten control of it. Because it could have went either way, it was just that kind of game."
The two teams combined for championship records of 115 points and 1,644 yard of offense.
"That might have been the weirdest game I've ever been part of in my life," said Broncos defensive coordinator Mike Bukovsky.
"We just had to keep scoring, keep scoring, no matter how far we got out ahead," said receiver Anthony Taylor, who joined Westerkamp and Joey Borsellino each with more than 100 yards receiving. "We just had to keep scoring. And that's what we did."
Inevitably, Montini (12-2) used a crucial pair of fumble recoveries to control the game and slow Joliet Catholic (11-3).
Isaac, who had run for touchdowns of 71, 63, 56, 66 and 2 yards on his way to the third best rushing game in state history, gave Joliet Catholic a 45-42 lead with 5 minutes, 56 seconds left in the third quarter on his sixth touchdown, of 69 yards.
After the rare defensive hold -- a Montini field goal try that veered wide -- Isaac fumbled on his next run. Montini linebacker Joe Nitti recovered, and Dimiti Taylor followed with a 30-yard touchdown run. The junior finished with 196 yards on 15 carries.
Isaac fumbled again on the Hilltoppers' next series and Montini safety Tim Mikeworth recovered at the Bronco 29-yard line. Six plays later, the first of the fourth quarter, Rhode hit Borsellino for a 27-yard touchdown pass that gave Montini a 56-45 lead. The Broncos never trailed again.
"We figured out that it was probably going to be a turnover that made the difference," Andriano said. "We were able to get two in a row, so that was big. That spelled the difference because our offense then scored."
And then some.
"That was going to be the theme to the game, is we were going to have to score every possession," Rhode said. "We didn't score every possession, but we came close. Seventy points on Joliet Catholic isn't easy."
It was a shame for Isaac that after rushing for more than 500 yards out of Hilltoppers coach Dan Sharp's double-wing offense his game may be remembered more for two fumbles that swayed momentum.
"Trying to get extra yards instead of going down," said the junior, who has a multitude of Division I scholarship offers. "It happens. Unfortunately it happened in the wrong game."
Montini middle linebacker Franklin Bruscianelli made 18 tackles starting in his second straight championship victory.
"It's the greatest feeling in the world," he said. "Last year and the year before that we did it, but this year as a senior, it's just unbelievable."
Westerkamp ended the scoring with touchdown grabs of 69 and 94 yards to put the game, and his career, safely away.
"It goes by so fast. So fast," he said. "I remember freshman year finally getting in the game, standing on the sidelines, and then it's this. I never would have thought for my senior year I'd be standing here with a third straight championship trophy.
"I've had such a fortunate career and I credit that to everybody that's been influential to me throughout my career. It's been unbelievable."