With the ball in Dimitri Taylor’s hands or at Andrew Harte’s right foot, Montini can score from just about anywhere.
The Broncos ended the regular season Friday night in Lombard with a 38-7 victory over visiting Aurora Central Catholic. Taylor, a senior running back, carried the ball just 9 times, but he scored 3 touchdowns and finished with 243 yards. Harte, also a senior, just missed a 57-yard free kick when it hit the crossbar and bounced back onto the field, but he had plenty of leg for a Montini record 54-yard field goal.
Aurora Central (6-3, 4-3) kept the ball away from Montini as long as it could in the Suburban Christian Conference crossover game, using 9½ minutes on its opening possession. But on fourth-and-goal at the Montini 5-yard line, the Chargers opted to go for the touchdown, and junior defensive back Derrick Curry intercepted the tipped pass in the end zone.
“At that point I felt we had nothing to lose,” Chargers coach Brian Casey said about passing up a field goal. “We’re in the playoffs one way or the other. Maybe you play it a little smarter if you’re really playing for something. We told our kids we had a chance for the biggest upset in arguably the last 10 years of Illinois high school football. You’re not going to do that by kicking field goals.”
The Chargers were playing without two offensive starters, including quarterback Matt Rahn, out due to illness, starting junior Matt Schaeffer instead.
“Schaeffer, 48 hours ago, wasn’t the quarterback,” said Casey, a Montini alumnus. “... He hadn’t played quarterback in almost a full calendar year, and to come out and play the way he did, and as effectively as he did.”
The Chargers forced Montini (7-2, 6-1) to punt on its first possession, but on the Broncos’ second possession, Taylor broke off a 57-yard touchdown run on the second play, giving Montini a 7-0 lead with 9:40 left in the second quarter. Two minutes later Montini got the ball back, and again Taylor broke loose on the Broncos’ second play, this time for a 47-yard scoring run and a 14-0 lead.
“DT showed up tonight,” Montini coach Chris Andriano said. “That’s a big, big plus for us in terms of the playoffs.”
The next Montini possession lasted three plays, ending when Mark Gorogianis threw an 18-yard TD pass to Joey Borsellino with 3:18 left in the second after a 31-yard Taylor run.
The Broncos went back to a two-play possession the next time, Gorogianis running for a 12-yard touchdown. They had scored 28 points in seven minutes, and they weren’t done trying.
Montini opted to fair catch a Chargers punt with 37.9 seconds left at the Aurora Central 47-yard line. Instead of sending out the offense, Montini sent out Harte with his kicking tee, which he put at the 47 for the free kick.
“It was probably the best kickoff I hit all night,” Harte said. “My kickoffs weren’t spectacular tonight. I just put it so high up, trying to give it a chance in that light breeze and it just came back. It’s all right. It was neat to have the experience, and maybe we’ll need it again when it matters.”
“I was looking at that and I said, this is our shot to do it,” Andriano said. “I saw the Bears do that against the Packers, I think it was back in 1961, and we’ve always prepared for that, believe it or not, every year. We’ve always used that in the back of our minds. It almost went in. It would’ve been great.”
Harte also made all five of his extra-point kicks, giving him 93 consecutive, an Illinois record. He tied Jason Bondzio of Humble, Texas, for third all-time nationally.
“Harte is unbelievable,” Andriano said. “He’s an amazing kicker. The best we’ve ever had, obviously. He’s got to be one of the best in the state.”
Montini looked like it might earn a running clock when Taylor opened the second half with a 48-yard TD run to conclude a 6-play, 80-yard drive, but the Chargers showed they weren’t ready to quit. They went 80 yards in 3 plays, aided by two 15-yard penalties against Montini, Matt Schaefer throwing a 15-yard TD pass to Brian Bohr.
ACC recovered the onside kick and drove to the Montini 1-yard line before turning the ball over on downs.
Montini answered by driving to the Chargers’ 37 before being stopped with 10:18 left in the game. Again Harte took the field, and this time he cleared the crossbar from 54 yards.
“I knew I had it in me, I just had to go out and execute,” Harte said. “(Andriano) told me the past two weeks he wanted to get me the school record. ... He didn’t even question it. He said field goal all the way.”
From a long way.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.