St. Laurence upsets IC Catholic with last-minute TD

During IC Catholic's current run of eight straight quarterfinal appearances and four overall state titles, the Knights have often dug deep to pull out wins.

On Saturday night, the shoe was finally on the other foot.

Covering 77 yards in just over three minutes, St. Laurence got a 2-yard touchdown run from Aaron Ball with 21 seconds left to give the visiting Vikings a 24-20 victory in Class 4A action in Elmhurst.

The final drive consisted of 11 plays, 10 of which were on the ground, with Ball scoring for the second time in the game.

"From Week 1, we've been doubted," St. Laurence coach Adam Nissen said. "We never get picked to win games. Our guys have rallied around that underdog role. I'm proud of our fight, I love these guys."

The Vikings will host Wheaton Academy in a Class 4A semifinal next weekend.

The defending Class 3A state champions, ICCP ended the fall with a 9-3 record after moving into the challenging CCL/ESCC and up a class in the playoffs.

"It's tough," said ICCP senior Eric Karner, who also scored twice. "They gave us a good game, they are a good team. At the end of the day, they happened to come out on top. We came out and executed the best we could. I just don't have words.

"My heart is here (with ICCP football). One of the reasons I play, this group of guys is so special to me."

Karner hauled in a pair of touchdown passes from Dennis Mandala, the second of which a 19-yarder to give the home team a 20-14 lead early in the third quarter. He also caught a 13-yard TD shortly before halftime and finished with seven receptions for 80 yards.

Mandala was 17 of 24 for 137 yards. Aaron Harvey added 51 yards on 13 carries and a 1-yard TD to get the Knights on the board in the first quarter.

ICCP played without standout wide receiver/defensive back KJ Parker.

"I love our seniors and what they did all year," ICCP coach Bill Krefft said. "That's (St. Laurence) a really good football team. They got downhill and handled us all day in the box. They are very physical.

"But all the respect in the world to our kids. They fought all year, it just didn't work out. I love all these guys like they are my sons. Our senior group is pretty special, some of them have been with us since second, third grade. I feel bad for them."

It was a homecoming of sorts for Nissen, who was the athletic director at ICCP for two years from 2017-18. The Vikings (9-3), who advance to play Wheaton Academy in the semifinals, received 90 rushing yards from Ball and 91 from quarterback Evan Les, who also competed 7-of-12 passes for 66 yards.

The visitors also held the Knights to under 28 points for only the second time all season.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.