Nazareth denies Rolling Meadows a trip to state
Rolling Meadows' magical season came to an abrupt end Saturday.
Playing before a huge crowd, Meadows surrendered four first-quarter touchdowns to Nazareth and never recovered, falling 42-14 in the Class 7A semifinals. Nazareth (13-0) will defend its 7A title next Saturday at 4 p.m. at Northern Illinois University against Mt. Carmel, which beat Willowbrook 27-6.
Nazareth's first two touchdowns were set up by Rolling Meadows turnovers deep in Mustang territory. Meadows fumbled on its first play from scrimmage and then threw an interception on the next possession as Nazareth turned both miscues into scores.
"Obviously that's not the start you want," Rolling Meadows coach Matt Mishler said. "We have got into holes before and dug ourselves out. I just think today, it just wasn't meant to be."
JJ McCarthy, who is a junior and has already committed to play for Michigan, was 20-of-27 and threw for 362 yards and 5 touchdowns for the Roadrunners. All 5 touchdown passes went to Tyler Morris, a sophomore who has a scholarship offer from the Wolverines.
McCarthy and Morris were dazzling in their performance in Rolling Meadows. The pair hooked up for first-quarter touchdowns of 7, 35, 26 and 33 yards as the Roadrunners raced to a 28-0 lead before the end of the quarter.
Alex Carrillo tallied for Nazareth on a 3-yard run late in the second quarter as the Roadrunners built a 35-0 lead at the half.
Morris would later catch a 61-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter that sent the game to a running clock. Morris would finish with 9 catches for 224 yards,
Nazareth coach Tim Racki said that he has the pleasure of watching McCarthy and Morris in practice.
"I get to enjoy that on a daily basis so I am spoiled," Racki said. "They stay after practice and they are out early before practice. They are really are humble and work hard."
Nate Pedraza, who was named to the 7A All-State team for the second consecutive year, gave credit to Nazareth for its win.
"They were just flat out more athletic than us," Pedraza said. "I would have liked as a team to make it to state. We were one step away from DeKalb, but they were just better than us."
Rolling Meadows (12-1), which had not been to the state semifinals since 2004, showed its fortitude by not throwing in the towel. The Mustangs were able to score a pair of late touchdowns as the Mid-Suburban East champions were able to tally a pair of late touchdowns.
Carson Schiller (10-of-16, 138 yards) showed his resolve when he connected with Jordan Wiles on a short pass. Wiles then was able to get a block, and scampered 50 yards for a touchdown to make it 42-7.
The Mustangs would tally midway through the fourth quarter when Schiller tossed an 8-yard pass to Kevin Jacks. It was set up by a 48-yard run by Noah Wilson.
"It has been incredible," Schiller said. "All these guys played their heart out. I just loved playing together. We didn't win the game but we just loved playing together and this final time."
Schiller said he and his teammates embraced being overlooked all season.
"I was the underdog," said Schiller, who played just four snaps prior to this season.
"This is what this team is. We live being the underdogs. I just wanted to make a statement and put this team's name in the history books."
Wiles, who had 4 catches for 81 yards, echoed his teammate's feelings
"We had a pretty good season and made history," Wiles said. "I never met people like this. These are my brothers since freshman year. For them to step up and do this it is crazy."
Mishler said that his team worked its way into the state semifinals.
"I think what these guys have accomplished is nothing short of amazing," Mishler said. "For this group to be in the semis and be 12-0 was an amazing accomplishment. I am sure no one outside of us though that would happen. They just got better every week and their belief in each other and the program I think went a long way to that goal."