Adam Criter’s 99-yard kickoff return highlights three-TD night in St. Francis’ rout of Aurora Christian

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AURORA – Adam Criter may have confounded Webster and Scrabble aficionados simultaneously early in the second quarter against Aurora Christian.

But every die-hard football fan knows what a great “deke” is.

Criter left two Aurora Christian would-be tacklers on his 99-yard kickoff return grasping at air at midfield as part of his three-touchdown extravaganza in the first half of St. Francis’ 49-27 win over the Eagles in Aurora in Metro Suburban Red action.

“I was determined,” said Criter, who would also collaborate with St. Francis sophomore quarterback Alessio Milivojevic for two other touchdowns through the air before halftime. “They had just scored, and we needed the energy.”

Aurora Christian (4-2, 2-2) had shaved the Spartans’ first-quarter two-touchdown lead in half two plays into the second quarter as Max Brey, directly responsible for all three Aurora Christian touchdowns, raced 31 yards on the first of two immaculate fourth-down conversions for scores.

But St. Francis’ path to playoff eligibility in Class 4A was settled in a manner of minutes.

Ater Criter accounted for 99 of his 222 all-purpose yards — all before halftime — on the special teams score, the Spartans (5-1, 3-0) collected a touchdown in all three phases of the sport on a Amari Head 21-yard fumble return.

The scores occurred 48 seconds apart in the second quarter as St. Francis would ultimately build an insurmountable 42-10 cushion at the break.

Milivojevic, who opened the scoring with a 35-yard hookup with Ryan Calcagno, hit Criter with a 67-yard fourth-down bomb.

Criter extended the Spartans’ lead to 42-10 at halftime with a 6-yard strike with 6.4 seconds before the intermission.

“At the end of the day, it’s trusting all of our guys,” Criter said. “I mean, the quarterback. Only a sophomore. He has insane leadership talents.”

Blake Lawson was the Spartans’ other breakout offensive player.

The senior halfback — despite a mere three touches — led all rushers with 122 yards courtesy of first- and second-half scoring runs of 66 and 41 yards.

“I saw the holes and trusted all the blockers,” Lawson said. “I ran past all the defenders.”

Milimojevic had only three misses on 17 attempts for 187 yards.

The second-half was an interminable penalty-fest as the Eagles, undoubtedly aided by the Spartans committing 15 total fouls for 166 yards of lost yardage, had the solace of outsourcing their league foe 17-7.

Yet another sophomore signalcaller, Brey hit Than Lindoo and Owen Hampton for scoring receptions of 28 and 6 yards.

“The offensive line stepped it up in the second half,” Brey said. “I was calling a lot of audibles. I saw opportunities and kept going. (Lindoo) made an amazing catch on the (fourth-down) touchdown. I got hit as I released the ball.”

Jaxon Billips added two field goals (37 and 26) for the Eagles.