Once again, Jackson's actions key for St. Viator

St. Viator needed a jolt on Friday, and for the second consecutive week senior Darreontae Jackson provided one.

The prior week, Jackson rushed for 262 yards in leading Viator to a 39-7 victory over St. Francis.

On Friday, Jackson once again delivered, scoring 3 touchdowns. One of them was a 92-yard kickoff return that turned the momentum of the game, propelling the Lions to a 28-14 East Suburban Catholic Conference victory over visiting Marian Catholic at Robert Morris Stadium in Arlington Heights.

St. Viator (2-1, 1-0) jumped to a 14-7 advantage early in the third quarter on a 1-yard run by junior quarterback Bryce Hellgeth.

But Marian Catholic (1-2, 0-1) responded on its first play from scrimmage after the go ahead TD, when senior quarterback Cam Thomas scampered 80-yards for the score, knotting the game at 14-14.

That is when Jackson gave Viator its big lift with his return. St. Viator led 21-14 and never again trailed.

"My team just has faith in me," said Jackson, who rushed for 107 yards on 19 carries, including 87 in the pivotal second half. "They told me if there was a time to return a kick, it was against this team, this week. I promised I would do it and I kept my word."

Thomas provided a couple jolts for Marian Catholic. The Illinios-bound senior rushed for 152 yards, including a 1-yard plunge in the second quarter to give the Spartans a 7-0 advantage.

Thomas (8-for-26, 154 yards) found Victor Akinyemi (2-77) for catches of 44 and 33 yards to set up the opening score.

But Viator scored on 20-yard run by Jackson to tie the score at 7-7 at halftime.

Jackson also contributed a 26-yard rushing touchdown in the final quarter to give the Lions a 28-14 lead.

"Marion came out and battled and they made big plays," said St.Viator first year coach Dave Archibald. "But we got the kickoff return and that was a big momentum change in our favor and we sustained it."

Senior linebacker Austin Ruetsche helped key a Viator defense that held Thomas and the Marian Catholic offense in check in the final quarter.

Senior quarterback Tom Majerus (17-for-23, 122 yards) also sparked a St. Viator attack that was still missing Notre Dame-bound senior tight end Cole Kmet.

"Last year we finished 1-8, so we needed a win," said Ruetsche. "Not just for us, but to show everyone else."

Marian Catholic entered the game on a somber note. Former coach and athletic director Dave Mattio passed away on Sept. 7.

Mattio was head coach for the Spartans from 1976-2012, guiding his team to 20 playoff appearances, including a Class 4A state title in 1993. Mattio left a huge imprint on Marian Catholic and the ESCC.

"It's tough to say goodbye to someone who was such a big part of our school and community," said Marian Catholic coach Sean Mele. "It was a tough week, but I know the effort we gave tonight was something that Dave would have approved of."

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