Milivojevic propels St. Francis past Prospect
Sophomore quarterbacks start varsity football games because head coaches believe they have the talent to do so.
St. Francis head coach Bob McMillen has the right player in sophomore Alessio Milivojevic.
"His game today was like night and day from his first two," said McMillen. "The coaches this week worked with him on getting the ball out of his hands quicker."
The worked paid off. The visiting Spartans, a Class 4A team. came away with an impressive 34-27 win at Prospect in a nonconference tilt Friday night.
The host Knights (7A) were to play at Niles West but the game was canceled due to COVID-19 as was St. Francis' game at St. Edward.
Milivojevic completed 24 of 32 passes with one interception and a touchdown for 290 yards in the 2-1 Spartans win.
"Our receivers are so athletic and talented," said Milivojevic. "This past week in practice the receivers and I worked a lot on communication. We were able to read Prospect's defense and they made the catches. Our offensive line did a great job in reading Prospect's stunts. I think I made better decisions today than in my first two games."
Prospect (2-1) started off with a bang when Peyton Burgh returned the opening kickoff 89 yards for a 7-0 lead.
St. Francis tied the game at 7-7 when Adan Criter scored the first of his 3 rushing touchdowns from 5 yards out with 50 seconds left in the first quarter.
Milivojevic gave St. Francis the lead at 14-7 on a 21-yard pass to Blake Lawson with 8:10 left in the first half.
The Knights rallied with a 23-yard field goal by Benjamin Sahakian, which was followed by Frank Covey's 6-yard run with 1:16 left in the half for a 17-14 lead.
Things started out well for Prospect in the second half.
Samuel Anderson returned an interception 41 yards to the Spartans' 9-yard line. On third down Covey (10-for-24, 96 yards, 2 INTs) connected with Owen Walter on a 9-yard pass for a 24-14 lead.
"We're up by 10 points and we're feeling good but then the momentum changed," said Knights coach Dan DeBoeuf. "We hurt ourselves with costly penalties. Hats off to St. Francis. We knew they were a tough team."
Following the Knights' TD, St. Francis drove 60 yards to score on quarterback Carson Vandello's pass to Lawson from 23 yards out to retake the lead 24-21.
Vandello came in after Milivojevic hurt his arm on the previous play on a personal foul on the Knights to pull to within 24-21.
Criter scored on a 1-yard plunge with 1:48 left in the quarter for a 27-24 lead. Criter finished the Spartan scoring with a 2-yard run with 9:40 left in the game and a 34-24 lead.
Sahakian kicked a 21-yard field goal with 1:53 left in the game.
Prospect's last-ditch effort found Criter intercepting the pass at the St. Francis 10-yard line.
"We made the plays that we needed to make in the second half," said McMillen. "We kept our composure. Everyone made big plays for us."