ELMURST – With the game on the line in overtime Sept. 15, IC Catholic pinned its hopes on the offensive line.
That turned out to be a winning decision.
Joey Gliatta’s two-point conversion run around left end proved to be the difference in the Knights’ 36-34 overtime victory over Nazareth in Elmhurst.
In the CCL/ESCC Orange Conference opener and first-ever matchup between the defending state champions, Gliatta kicked off the extra session with a 6-yard touchdown run up the middle on third-and-goal for undefeated ICCP (4-0, 1-0).
“We put our trust in the offensive line,” said Gliatta, who finished with 148 yards on 18 carries. “It was the same situation last year in the playoffs against Princeton in the quarterfinal game. We were like let’s go back to that and see what happens. And again, they did a great job blocking.”
Gliatta, who opened the scoring with a 7-yard run in the first quarter, also took a screen pass 63 yards to the end zone to knot the score at 21-apiece early in the fourth.
“We knew going in this would be a great one,” the senior running back said. “It didn’t matter what their record was. I thought our team showed a lot of heart today. We battled back and won the game.
“This is a big win for us. We know how tough our schedule is coming up. In terms of the playoffs, now we are one step closer.”
The Roadrunners (0-4, 0-1) also scored on their overtime possession on a 1-yard run by quarterback Logan Malachuk, but their attempted two-point pass fell incomplete.
Malachuk completed 28-of-37 passes for 248 yards, tossing two touchdowns to Jaden Fauske and another to Trenton Walker.
“I couldn’t ask for anything more from my team,” said Nazareth coach Tim Racki, whose team captured the 5A state championship a year ago. “That was a great high school football game. Unfortunately, we fell short. But it speaks to the resiliency of our team.
“This group will continue to fight. It’s a group of warriors.”
Aaron Harvey added two TD runs for the home team, including a 6-yarder that tied the game at 28-all with 1:14 left. He finished with 100 yards on 19 attempts.
“That was one of the best teams that we’ve ever seen in the history of our program,” said ICCP coach Bill Krefft, whose team is the defending Class 3A champs. “They are so well-coached. All the credit in the world to our kids. I don’t know if I was on my ‘A’ game as much as they were.
“We wanted to put a message out that we can be competitive with the top teams in the state. And it was an opportunity to help get us into the playoffs.”