Montini holds off Nazareth in wild finish on Nick Iron's blocked field goal
Alex Marre wasted precious time until he made an impact in Friday's game.
The Montini senior running back needed just 13 seconds to deliver a key blow to Nazareth in the opening CCL/ESCC White Division game.
In a game between state powerhouses with multiple championships, Marre turned on the jets for a 91-yard touchdown on the opening kickoff to set the tone for a conference game filled with explosive plays and momentum swings.
"That was just pure adrenaline and about getting something going," Marre said. "We needed it. It set the tone, especially against a team like this coming off a state championship. We needed it big time."
Friday's rare game between the Roadrunners and Broncos -- two programs which have produced a number of Division I players through the last 10-plus years -- wasn't a classic in terms of well-played precision football but the violent shifts in momentum and big plays made it an entertaining game for the near sellout crowd in Lombard.
In the end, the Broncos survived a wild game that featured several turnovers to go with two stunning special teams plays in the final seconds. Montini junior linebacker Nick Iron blocked a potential game-winning 32-yard field goal as time expired to salvage a 24-23 thrilling win over Nazareth.
"It was one-on-one and it was if you are better than that man, and I believed I was better than him, and I told my teammate that I'm going to run through this guy and one of us is going to block it," Iron said. "I laid out for it and blocked it. I dove and it hit my left hand. I was coming from the right side. I didn't know if they were going for a (field goal)."
Iron said he had motivation for a big game. Last week, his twin brother, Vince, suffered an injury that required surgery. Vince Iron, a wide receiver/defensive back, was on the sidelines for Friday's game.
"I'm playing for him and me now," Nick Iron said.
In a nearly three-hour marathon -- filled with key penalties and numerous injuries and timeouts -- the Broncos (3-0, 1-0) were on course for a blowout win before the Roadrunners (0-3, 0-1) mounted an impressive comeback.
The Roadrunners trailed 24-7 early in the fourth quarter, but slowly started chipping away behind quarterback Logan Malachuk, who passed for 226 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 80 yards. The Roadrunners cut the deficit to 24-23 with 6:20 left in regulation on Malachuk's 80-yard touchdown pass to Jake Cestone.
After stopping the Broncos on fourth down, the Roadrunners took over with 3:03 left on the 24-yard line. Malachuk marched his team down the field into field goal range with crisp passing and his running ability. But Malachuk lost a fumble in open space that Montini linebacker Jaxon Lane, who also had a second-quarter interception that stopped a deep Nazareth drive, recovered the ball with just under two minutes left in regulation.
"We were in a coverage where we had a lot of guys deep and I knew (Malachuk) was a big threat on the run," Lane said. "I broke down and he dropped the ball and I was able to dive on it."
Still, the Roadrunners managed to stay in the game, despite long odds, forcing the Broncos to punt the ball under 10 seconds left. The Roadrunners blocked the punt to gain possession with six seconds remaining inside the red zone.
As the Roadrunners hurried to the line of scrimmage, Nick Iron said he was ready for anything, even to play defense.
"That was unbelievable by Nick," Montini coach Mike Bukovsky said. "We had so many chances to finish the game out in the right way. We have to get better at that ... They never quit."
Nazareth coach Tim Racki said he's disappointed in the loss but noted the resolve of his team to not give up after tough defeats to Kankakee and York.
"We showed that we are pretty good," Racki said. "I was very proud of their second half effort. You have to tip your hat off to Montini. I know they had a tough year last year."