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Needing two more wins to earn playoff eligibility, leading up to Saturday's game, St. Francis practiced like the football playoffs had already begun.
"Everyone came out with a lot of energy," said Spartans senior linebacker Tim Skelly. "We know we've got to win these next two games to try to get a bid into the playoffs. Everyone's playing with a lot of energy, a lot of heart, so we've got to keep it up going to next week, especially."
St. Francis can now prepare for St. Edward in Week 9. On Saturday in River Grove, the Spartans handily beat Guerin 49-0 to end a four-game losing streak.
Scoring 5 touchdowns on their first 8 offensive plays plus Alex Alcantara's fumble recovery in the end zone to end Guerin's first possession, St. Francis (4-4, 2-4) extended the Suburban Christian Conference foe's string of shutouts to six. The Gators (1-7, 0-6) have been outscored 304-0 in the span.
"Somewhere along in my career I've been in a situation like Guerin is in," said St. Francis coach Greg Purnell. "I just encouraged them to hang in there and keep working hard and hopefully good things will happen for them."
It wasn't to be in Saturday's SCC crossover. St. Francis fullback Jack Petrando ripped off a 34-yard touchdown run on the Spartans' second play from scrimmage, following guard Josh Croci on a trap.
Alcantara's recovery — which would have been a blocked punt had Guerin's Mike Marra not mishandled the ball on a wet, muddy day — came next. Mark Yasak recovered another Gators fumble off a high shotgun snap and St. Francis quarterback Michael Robinson bootlegged 5 yards to score behind guard James Kalfas.
Though Purnell rotated his lineup from the start St. Francis kept Guerin deep in its own territory, and T.J. Jackson scored on a 12-yard TD run followed a few minutes later by a 75-yard scoring jaunt by Petrando, who ran for 128 yards on 3 carries.
Guerin's third lost fumble, recovered by Spartans defensive lineman David Lombardo, led to Robinson's sole pass, an 8-yard touchdown strike to Andrew Brundage. St. Francis led 42-0 after one quarter.
Jackson's 80-yard touchdown run at 5:15 of the second quarter, during an early running clock, completed the scoring.
"We're happy to be playing for our fifth win next week," Purnell said. "Hopefully, we can get it and get some help from a lot of the people on our schedule to acquire enough (playoff) points to get in."