Barrington's comeback falls just short vs. Notre Dame
No one was happier than Notre Dame junior quarterback Anthony Sayles to see senior running back Julian Schurr in the Dons' backfield.
Schurr had missed the last two games for Notre Dame due to a shoulder injury. The Dons lost both of those games.
With a full complement of players, the Dons were able to outlast Barrington 23-21 in a Class 8A first-round playoff game Saturday in Niles.
The win will now pit the 14th-seeded Dons (8-2) against third-seeded Lincoln-Way East in New Lenox next weekend.
Sayles scored all three of Notre Dame's touchdowns on runs of 11, 24 and 4 yards to help preserve the win. Sayles rushed for 66 yards in 19 carries and converted 6 of 12 passes for 76 yards.
"Having Julian back helped spread their defense out more," said Sayles. "I can't explain how Julian helps our offense, just by his leadership and the way he plays."
Schurr added 45 yards rushing on 17 carries.
Following Sayles' first touchdown, the Broncos' Quinn Ketel burst up the middle for a 75-yard touchdown run to give Barrington a 7-6 lead.
Sayles would counter with his 24-yard run for a 14-6 Notre Dame lead.
Sayles made what was the key play in the game in the third quarter with 3:47 left on the clock.
On third down and goal-to-go from the Barrington 4-yard line, Sayles made a big-time play.
"I rolled out to the left and saw 77 (Lukas Van Ness) coming down on me," said Sayles. "But the coaches drill into my head, no negative yardage. I did what I could to get back to the line of scrimmage and I saw one player in front of me at the goal line. That's when I lowered my shoulder and bulled myself in for the score."
"That's the type of player he is," said Notre Dame coach Mike Hennessey. "He's just a gifted, hard-nosed player and he comes to play."
That score followed by Matt Murphy's kick gave the Dons a 20-7 lead, but it almost wasn't enough.
Barrington quarterback Tommy Fitzpatrick (15 carries, 66 yards) helped pull the 19th-seeded Broncos (6-4) closer by finishing a 13-play, 80-yard drive by scoring on a 12-yard run with 10:53 left in the game. Following Ramiro Vences' point after kick, the Broncos trailed 20-14.
Murphy, who missed a conversion kick and a field-goal attempt, connected on a 32-yarder with three minutes left in the game to give Notre Dame a 23-14 lead.
"When Murphy hit that field goal it put us up by two scores," said Hennessey. "We had to take a shot at it when our drive stalled. He's a guy that you lean on because he's a senior."
Fitzpatrick (11-for-20, 1 INT, 93 yards) connected on a 31-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Sarkar with 52 seconds left in the game.
The Broncos tried to get the ball back on an onside kick but after a big scramble for the ball the Dons were awarded the football.
"We had a chance at the end," said Barrington coach Joe Sanchez, "but the play (onside kick) didn't go our way. I'm proud of these guys. We believed in ourselves and we battled. The loss wasn't for a lack of effort."
With 7:04 left in the game, the Broncos tried a double pass as Fitzpatrick lateraled to Peter Anderson who overthrew wide receiver Joey Gurskis by inches in a wide open area at the Barrington 5-yard line.
"We practiced that play all week," said Sanchez. "We felt at that time it was worth taking a shot at it. If we complete the play, maybe we would be the ones celebrating."