Mistakes prove costly in Marmion's 2nd-round loss
Quentrell Harris does a little bit of everything for Nazareth Academy's football team.
On Saturday afternoon, Harris continued to display his all-around talents during the Roadrunners' 23-14 victory over Marmion (7-4) in the second round of the Class 5A state football playoffs in Aurora.
Harris, a 6-foot-1, 175-pound senior, returned kicks, played running back, caught passes, lined up at quarterback in the Wildcat package and played defensive back as the 14th-seeded Roadrunners (7-4) advanced to next weekend's 5A quarterfinals in LaGrange Park.
While returning a pair of kickoffs and a punt for 131 yards in the opening quarter, carrying the ball 11 times for 51 yards and a touchdown, and making 3 receptions for 23 yards, Harris may have made his biggest mark on the defensive side of the ball.
His late first-half interception helped lead to the Roadrunners' only points of the opening half -- a 41-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Logan Malachuk (12 of 18, 144 yards) to Justin Taylor on a 4th-and-6 play with 32 seconds remaining before halftime.
"I played a little defense last year and I got the chance to go back there," said Harris. "I was ready."
Harris overcame a pair of fumbles to make another huge defensive play late in the game.
Trailing 17-14 and facing a 4th-and-5 from their own 41-yard line with 5:06 remaining, the Cadets' hopes faded away after quarterback Daniel Chung's pass intended for senior wide receiver Dane Pardridge was knocked away by Harris near the sideline.
"It's just a mindset," said Harris. "I might get down on myself, but I know I'm only going to get down on myself until the next play. The next chance I get, I'm going to try and do something great. That's the whole team's mindset."
"He's just dynamic," Nazareth coach Tim Racki said of Harris. "He'll get the tough yards. The special teams part of his game is just so big. Plus, he was covering No. 3 (Pardridge), who is a track star, too. That is not a small feat."
Seven plays later, Taylor's 2-yard touchdown run -- his second of the game -- with 1:58 left put the game away for the Roadrunners.
"He's a veteran," Racki said of Taylor, who also caught 3 passes for 64 yards. "He's been up (on varsity) since he was a freshman."
Ryan Short added a 21-yard field goal for Nazareth, who outscored Marmion 16-7 in the second half.
"In the first half, we didn't come out like we wanted to," said Harris. "We just came back in the second half ready to go with a never-say-die attitude."
Marmion grabbed a 7-0 first-quarter lead on Anthony Kuceba's fumble recovery in the end zone and tied the contest at 14-14 on Jacob Bottarini's 3-yard TD run with 4:04 left in the third quarter before the Roadrunners scored the game's final 9 points.
"The last thing I said to them in the team meeting this morning was turnovers and special teams were going to be vital," said Cadets coach Dan Thorpe, whose team's 2 interceptions turned into 14 Nazareth points.