ICCP knows the way back to Champaign
With its hopes of a potential three-peat on the brink after a scoreless first half, the IC Catholic Prep football team was in desperate need of a spark.
Enter Kyle Franklin and a senior-laden offensive line.
Putting his team on the scoreboard with a 92-yard scoring run, Franklin later tacked on two additional touchdowns to lead the Knights to a 28-9 come-from-behind victory over Richmond-Burton in a Class 4A semifinal Saturday in Elmhurst.
In winning its 25th overall game in a row and 14th straight in the postseason, two-time defending state champion ICCP (13-0) advanced to take on Bishop McNamara at 7 p.m. Friday in Champaign. The Knights defeated the Fightin' Irish 21-20 back on Sept. 14.
"It's a blessing," said senior lineman Ricky Mysliwiec, who plays both on offense and defense. "I'm very thankful for this team; I'm so lucky to be on a team like this and to have coaches like this.
"And congrats to Bishop Mac, that's a big win over Rochester. We will just come out and play and try to do our thing."
For a while Saturday ICCP wasn't able to do its thing, trailing 9-0 at half thanks in large part to a physical and stingy Rockets' defense that forced four turnovers. But after being held to 23 yards on 11 carries over the first two quarters, Franklin finally broke loose.
On the sophomore's 92-yard sprint to the end zone less than three minutes after the break, he appeared to be tackled for a short gain before breaking loose and running around right end.
"He's been doing that all year," ICCP coach Bill Krefft said. "He's special. He's always been that explosive. And that's the O-line too. That's five seniors who played four quarters up front. They've been nasty all year.
"We knew patience would be a big thing in this game. Credit to Richmond-Burton and their program, they are a well-coached team."
After Khali Saunders recovered a fumble, the home team took the lead for good on a 2-yard run by Franklin with 10 minutes remaining in the fourth. Franklin then added an 11-yard TD run and finished with 192 yards on 25 attempts, going over 2,000 yards rushing for the season in the process.
"At half we just told the seniors that this was their last home game," Franklin said. "We had to go, we had to come together as a team. This game reminded me of our game against Bishop Mac. We had to come out a little harder (in the second half). We are a brotherhood. We always stay together and we knew we had to come out and do our jobs."
Chauncey Lee's 65-yard interception return for a score with 4:55 left accounted for the final margin.
"We knew we had to get that momentum," Mysliwiec said. "If we could just stop the mistakes and the errors and the turnovers, we knew that eventually we would do what we had to do. Our defense kept us in there. And props to our coaches for keeping our minds right. It was a whole team effort."
Richmond-Burton (11-2) went up 2-0 via a safety at the end of the first quarter off an ICCP bad snap on an attempted punt. On the Rockets' ensuing possession Mike Kaufman scored on a 2-yard run.
"We had to do more on offense," said Rockets coach Mike Noll. "They have a very good defense and their defense was better than our offense. We needed to get more first downs and possess the ball more. We weren't able to do that."