Second half powers Nazareth
Big rally “shows what we can do,” Morris says
By Steve Metsch
After being pushed around by Fenwick’s football team in the first half Sept. 13, Nazareth Academy knew something had to change.
The host Roadrunners were clinging to a 7-0 lead after Riley Theobald’s 16-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, but seemed out of synch.
Nazareth Tim Racki gave credited the Friars: “Fenwick came to play. They were physical. We knew that they would be. it was a dogfight in the trenches. It was a heck of a half. They played really well, not surprisingly. They are well coached.”
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When asked how he inspired the troops, Racki smiled and said, “at halftime, I had some choice words.”
His words took hold.
The Roadrunners scored three touchdowns and a field goal in the second half to beat Fenwick, 31-6, in the conference opener. Nazareth is now 2-1 overall.
Nazareth players study film during their 31-6 victory over Fenwick in La Grange Park on Sept., 13. Photo by Steve Metsch.
Racki, who “wanted to see a little more fight” and “find more rhythm offensively,” was not disappointed.
On the first drive of the second half, Tyler Morris scored on a 52-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback J.J. McCarthy for a 14-0 lead.
Chances are McCarthy’s perfectly thrown pass on second-and-9 probably pleased University of Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh, who was at the game to check out his top-rated recruit, who was 10 of 20 for 133 yards and one score.
“Basically, (the play) isolates me. We decided what we were doing, and he threw it,” Morris said.
Morris followed that touchdown two Fenwick eries later with an interception that he returned to Fenwick’s 13-yard-line. That set up the first of Alex Carrillo’s two rushing touchdowns.
“I was watching the quarterback’s eyes,” Morris said.
Racki spoke highly of the speedy sophomore: “He’s quite a playmaker. In every phase of the game, he makes an impact. Having a kid like that, he makes coaches look good.”
Morris said the team’s transformation “shows what we can do when we’re really focused.”
Sophomore quarterback Kaden Cobb 10 of 31 for 144 yards for Fenwick, which mustered only 1 yard rushing on 17 attempts.
Fenwick’s lone touchdown came on a thrilling return by elusive sophomore Denny Kent, who raced 96 yards down the left sideline late in the third quarter.
“There’s a lot of improvement (needed), obviously, in special teams,” Racki said. “We thought we had our kickoff (team) in a good place the last couple weeks but, obviously, that needs a lot of work.”
But special teams did a good job in the first quarter.
Jailon Welch blocked a field goal attempt from the 17 yard line. That gave Nazareth the ball and eventually led to its first touchdown.
Carrillo scored on runs of three and eight yards in the second half
His second touchdown capped a seven-minute, 93-yard drive that had Racki and his assistant coaches bubbling with enthusiasm.
“We had to send a message that it would be a long second half. Pound it, pound it, pound it,” said Carrillo, who rushed 20 times for 105 yards.
Nazareth rushed 39 times for 283 yards, according to stats from the team.
“It was a good half. All glories to ‘the hogs,’ they block so well,” Carrillo said of the offensive line. “The receivers. They go unnoticed blocking on all those runs. They block like hogs.”
Asked about the cold start, Carrillo said: “We’ve had that problem this year. In practice, too. We haven’t found our identity yet.We’ve been pursuing it. We’re hoping to find it soon.”
Racki plans to “talk to my offensive coaches to see how we can get more comfortable and get rolling a little bit earlier.”
Josh Fowler kicked four extra points and one field goal. The Roadrunners’ next game is at St. Laurence on Sept. 20.
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