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Brother Rice tops St. Rita for share of Catholic League Blue title

Chicago Tribune
Alex Alarcon helps Brother Rice top St. Rita, earn share of Catholic League Blue title.

It took Brother Rice 10 years to get back to the top of the Catholic League Blue.

Friday night's season finale against St. Rita seemed to take longer.

The No. 16 Crusaders led 21-7 halftime, then needed two big fourth-quarter defensive stops to hold on and top No. 20 St. Rita 28-21 to claim a share of their first league title since 2004.

Energized by backup quarterback Scott Procter, the Mustangs put together back-to-back scoring drives to start the second half to close the gap to 28-21. Brother Rice's Julian Blain scored on a 5-yard run between St. Rita touchdowns.

St. Rita (6-3, 1-3) had two possessions in the final six minutes and drove to Brother Rice's 34 with 1:54 remaining before Brother Rice senior Robert Woods snuffed out a third-and-9 screen pass and dropped St. Rita's Tyre Lee for a 6-yard loss.

One play later, St. Rita's desperation halfback option pass fell short and the celebration started at 100th and Pulaski.

"We knew it was going to be a dog fight. We were in a good position last week against Providence and let it go," said senior defensive end Kevin Furlong, who had a tackle for loss and sack.

"It's always fun playing in the Catholic League Blue. You always know it's going to be a game to the end. This is awesome. At the beginning of the season we said we wanted to get our names up on that banner. And that's what we did tonight."

Brother Rice (6-3, 3-1) took advantage of a failed St. Rita fake punt deep in its own territory and needed just four plays to move 26 yards, with Marcus Jones scoring from the 1 for the 6-0 lead. One play following the ensuing kickoff, Greg Bernier scooped up at St. Rita fumble and took it 29 yards for Brother Rice's second TD in 19 seconds.

St. Rita's lone scoring drive came on a three-play, 59-yard drive with quarterback C.J. Weydeman hitting Kurt Zeiger for a 30-yard completion and Lee rushing twice for 29 yards, including a 5-yard score to cut the lead in half. Three straight drives into St. Rita territory finally came to fruition late in the half when quarterback Alex Alarcon completing a short pass in the flat to Blain, who turned it into a 27-yard score heading into the final minute.

The Crusaders appeared to add another score at the halftime buzzer when Jones intercepted Weydeman and returned it 57 yards for a score, but a holding call negated the touchdown.

Player of the game: Alex Alarcon, Brother Rice, 15-for-25, 170 yards, TD; 18 carries, 42 yards.

Key performers: Brother Rice — Marcus Jones, 16 carries, 66 yards, TD. St. Rita — Tyre Lee, 24 carries, 132 yards, 2 TDs.

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