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It is not very often a 300-yard rushing game becomes a footnote. Count Jeremy Molina among the skeptics. “I didn’t think it had a very good chance after seeing it in practice,” the star junior Shamrocks’ running back said.
St. Patrick won its first state playoff game in eight years with a parlor game trick, a visual sleight of hand that turned a tight-game into a convincing 41-15 victory over Glenbard South in a first-round Class 6A state playoff game at Hanson.
St. Patrick (7-3), the eighth-seed, advances to meet top-seed Cary-Grove in second-round play.
With the Shamrocks up 14-9, receiver Steve Galiardo caught the second half kickoff at the 20-yard line, where he was immediately converged upon by five other Shamrock players. They formed a huddle and hid the ball.
As the Raiders return team converged on the bunched up group, St. Patrick broke out of the circle, with John Dabe carrying the ball. Dabe made one move and ran untouched 80-yards for the touchdown. St. Patrick had never attempted the play in a game before. “Our special teams coaches came up with it, seeing something on film,” St. Patrick coach Dan Galante said.
“It really changed the momentum of the game,” he said. Dabe scored two touchdowns in a 25-second second stretch dating to the end of the second quarter. His 16-yard touchdown catch from sophomore quarterback Zach Fuller (12 of 20, 169 yards) gave the Shamrocks’ the five-point halftime edge.
Molina was a force of nature. He gashed the Raiders for 302 yards on 32 carries. He scored touchdown runs of one, 13 and three yards. “We really were excited to play, we put [the pressure] on the offensive line to come out and play today,” Molina said. “You have to give them credit. They created a lot of big holes. It was fun to run out there.”
Glenbard South (6-4) stayed close for two and a half quarters. Following the kickoff return score, quarterback Alex Jeske threw a beautiful 65-yard touchdown pass to Clark Gary that pulled the Raiders within 20-15.
Behind Molina, the Shamrocks threw the hammer down. The kickoff return provided the spark, but Molina’s pounding style proved to be the bread and butter. Galante challenged the Shamrocks to play up to their abilities in the second half. “Even when teams have stacked the box against us, we have shown the ability to run the ball,” he said. “It’s the straw that stirs the drink. I thought, in the second half, we came out and played our style of football.”
After the Raiders’ score, Molina answered with a 37-yard burst that set up his own 13-yard touchdown run down the right sideline. His 22-yard run keyed his third touchdown.
“I think we kind of underestimated Glenbard South in the first half, and that’s probably why we were a little sluggish,” Molina said.
Running back Matt Loos scored on a five-yard jaunt set up by running back Zach Smith’s 43-yard halfback option pass to Justin Gjerazi that knotted the score at 7-7 early in the second quarter. Glenbard South took its only lead, 9-7, on a safety after St. Patrick snapped the ball out of the end zone late in the second quarter.