ICCP comeback catches Joliet Catholic
As important as winning is -- and the IC Catholic Prep football program has done a ton of that in recent seasons -- it's just as important to know how to win.
So when the Knights fell behind Joliet Catholic Academy with just less than 10 minutes to play on Friday night in Joliet, there was not a single sign of panic on their sideline.
Instead, ICCP went out and sandwiched a pair of touchdowns around a critical fourth-down stop in a four-minute span to post a 22-12 victory, their 28th straight since early in the 2017 season.
"That's a credit to our kids," said ICCP coach Bill Krefft. "The older generation has established the culture and where the bar is set. We talk about getting off the ropes, and when things go wrong we don't panic, we just find a way to turn it around."
With a state record 14 championships, JCA (0-2) knows a little bit about how to win also, so despite being bottled up offensively for most of the game, they cobbled together a go-ahead touchdown drive. It was set up by Ben Stoner's 33-yard punt return to the ICCP 20 and culminated four plays later when Aidan Voss hit John Ehrsam with a 25-yard scoring strike on fourth down to move the Hilltoppers ahead 12-7.
Less than two minutes later, though, the Knights (2-0) were back in control. Quarterback Danny Cronin, who finished with 334 total yards, hit four consecutive passes before he faked a handoff from the JCA 44 and sprinted untouched around left end for the go-ahead score.
"I saw the D-end crash and decided to keep it," Cronin said. "Then I saw the linebacker hesitate, hit the seam and the offensive line did a great job blocking it."
After the score the Hilltoppers still had nearly eight minutes to work with. But facing a fourth-and-1 from their own 34, ICCP linebacker Kevin Cooke shot the gap and dropped Kenyetta Williams for a 1-yard loss.
"I thought our defensive line played a great game and they really stepped up in that situation," Krefft said. "Danny Cronin also really managed the game well offensively, made good decisions and was a real leader with the mentality that he was not going to let us lose."
Four plays later the Knights applied some icing to the cake when Kyle Franklin broke four tackles before sprinting away for a 26-yard TD run.
The first half was a defensive struggle with the scoreboard frozen at 0-0 until Franklin bulled in from the 1 with 11 seconds left in the half for a 7-0 lead. At that point the normally potent JCA ground game had been limited to 24 yards and 80 total. One big play helped get them back into the game, though, as Jordan Anderson's 50-yard run set up Williams' 1-yard plunger that made it 7-6 with 23 seconds left in the third quarter.