After three-plus games of playing opportunistic football, the magic finally ran out for St. Viator in the second half Friday night against visiting Nazareth.
The Roadrunners took advantage of some late miscues by the hosts Lions to score a 20-17 East Suburban Catholic Conference win.
The victory by Nazareth put an end to the Viator 3-game winning streak and spoiled the Lions' homecoming in Arlington Heights.
"We've been thriving lately by making plays at critical junctures," said St. Viator coach Dave Archibald. "Tonight, we made some mistakes at critical junctures."
Lions quarterback Bryce Hellgeth threw for 219 yards and 2 touchdowns -- but Viator's failure to convert a fourth down with minutes left stymied a potential game-winning rally.
"This was a tough game," said Lions running back Kennedy Gawin. "We came out fighting, but I'm not going to lie -- they're a tough team. I tip my hat to them."
St. Viator took a 7-0 lead on its first possession when Hellgeth threw a swing pass to Darreontae Jackson, who raced 59 yards down the sideline for the touchdown.
Nazareth scored in the first quarter as well to tie the game, but the Lions went into halftime with the momentum and a 10-7 lead when when Hellgeth sent a 35-yard field goal attempt straight through the uprights.
The Lions received the second-half kickoff but went three and out. And Nazareth scored minutes later to grab a 14-10 advantage.
"We came out strong it the second half and so did they," said Gawin. "We butted heads, but they got the edge."
The Lions had a fourth-quarter drive halted by an interception deep in Roadrunners territory, but St. Viator was able to take the lead back moments later.
Lions receiver Marc Clark made a leaping catch in traffic on a slant pattern and raced into the end zone from 62 yards out to give the home team a 17-14 advantage.
But Nazareth scored on its next possession to take the lead back at 20-17.
"I thought the kids gave a great effort," said Archibald. "We just didn't have the focus we needed to have tonight to put the game away."
The Lions (5-3, 4-2) had one final chance when they got the ball back with under two minutes remaining. But on a fourth-and-2, Nazareth stopped Jackson for no gain to take over on downs.
The Roadrunners were then able to run out the clock for the victory.
"It was a swing option," said Gawin of the fourth-down attempt, where Jackson first looked to pass, but with no one open tried to run for the first down. "We took a shot."
The Lions, who used the rushing game last week to get a big win over St. Patrick, had their passing game clicking Friday against the Roadrunners.
Clark had 4 catches for 102 yards, while Cole Kmet finished with 5 receptions for 41 yards.
"We had the lead in the fourth quarter," said Archibald, "but I give Nazareth credit -- they made the plays when they had to."