After rolling up 590 yards in a 67-17 footballvictory over host Chicago Christian on Friday, perhaps the oddest thing for IC Catholic Prep was this:
The Knights were actually behind late in the first quarter.
Hard to believe? It's not, considering a Chicago Christian 62-yard touchdown pass and a 58-yard scoring run, along with a 41-yard field goal that barely cleared the crossbar. That put ICCP down 17-12 with 4:19 remaining in the quarter.
But the answer to seemingly all of the Knights' problems was junior quarterback Khalil Saunders. Recall that Saunders stepped into the quarterback role after senior starter Luke Ricobene tore his anterior cruciate ligament in a 26-23 loss to St. Laurence two weeks ago.
Saunders turned things around for good with a 1-yard touchdown run up the middle with 2:53 left. Then, with no time on the clock at the end of the period after a penalty, Saunders had just one play and he made the most of it, hitting senior C.J. West with a 72-yard touchdown. West caught the ball behind the defensive line and outsprinted the remainder of the Chicago Christian defense.
Suddenly, the Knights were up 26-17, and they never looked back, improving to 3-1.
How dominant was Saunders? In just one half of play, he completed all 12 passes he attempted, for 237 yards and 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. For good measure he also rushed for 32 yards on 6 carries.
"That's awesome," ICCP coach Bill Krefft said. "I can't say enough about Khalil and the way he's responded. I think as a guy who is playing quarterback out of necessity, and he's welcomed the role and done a nice job of adapting.
"To see a game like that where they jump on us early, to see him respond, it was incredible."
For Saunders' example, though, it's not about one player. Put that within the context of the first bit of adversity he faced as a quarterback -- a deficit.
"We're taught at IC just to get ready for the next play and have a short memory," he said. "I just believe in my line, that they are going to give me enough time to deliver the ball, and that I'll make my correct reads and when I do that, everything falls down in the right way."
Saunders targeted five receivers, with junior Jacob Lytton catching 6 passes for 100 yards, while West caught 2 for 99 yards.
But the passing game was buoyed by a solid run game that put up 304 yards. That unit was led by freshman Kyle Franklin -- whose name wasn't even on the official roster. He had 5 rushes for 74 yards, including a 53-yard touchdown scamper on ICCP's first play from scrimmage in the third quarter. Senior Lazerick Eatman added 70 yards on 9 carries in one half of play.