JOLIET, Ill. -- Joliet Catholic coach Dan Sharp hit rewind on Ty Isaac’s game-winning touchdown reception more times than he could count during the team’s film session on Sunday.
“We played it quite a few times on Sunday, I have to admit,” Sharp said, grinning. “It’s one of the plays that will go down at Joliet Catholic as legendary. You still get chills when you watch it.”
While Joliet Catholic fans and players will be able to watch the replay for decades to come, Sharp knows it will never replace witnessing the moment in person.
Joliet Catholic had squandered a 15-point second-half lead and trailed 31-25 to rival Carmel with less than a minute to go. The Hilltoppers had the ball on their own 25-yard line. The play sent in from the sideline was a fade route up the left sideline for Isaac.
Quarterback Craig Slowik dropped back three steps and delivered the ball to the sprinting Isaac over his right shoulder. Isaac caught it and darted to his left toward the sideline. Carmel’s defensive back dove at Isaac’s feet and made contact, but Isaac kept his balance and remained inbounds. From there, he maneuvered past one more defender and out-ran the rest for a touchdown with 35.3 seconds remaining.
The touchdown was enough to make Isaac a hero, but you add what he did the rest of the night, and it’s an individual performance that may also never be forgotten. Isaac, the ESPNChicago.com Prep Athlete of the Week, also rushed for 221 yards and touchdowns of 46 and 70 yards on 17 carries and had two receptions for 91 yards, including his infamous score.
“Ty, I’ve never seen him play like that,” said Joliet Catholic senior running back Malin Jones, who is committed to Northwestern. “The kid’s a junior. He’s still got one more year. He deserves all the publicity and everything he gets. He’s a dog. He’s a dog out there.”
Isaac did enter the season with some hype behind his name. He was the third running back behind Jones and Josh Ferguson, who is now playing at Illinois last season, and put together some quality film for colleges to see despite tweaking his knee as a sophomore.
With his 6-foot-2 and 215-pound frame to go along with speed and shiftiness, college coaches jumped on recruiting him in the offseason. Arizona, Illinois, Notre Dame, Northwestern, among others came forward with scholarship offers.
His recruitment is expected to only get heavier as time passes. Sharp has had some talented running backs come through Joliet Catholic before, but Jones is a unique one with size and talent.
“He has that Adrian Peterson size,” Sharp said. “He’s that Marcus Allen-type running back. I can see him really excel in college as a running back.
“He has many skills. He can run. He can catch. He’s big. He’s fast. He can make cuts. He’s a guy who going to be seen a lot on Friday nights, but Saturday too because of his ability.”
Carmel coach Andy Bitto was undoubtedly impressed. Bitto was still shaking his head long after the game wondering how Isaac stayed inbounds on his game-winning catch.
“I think Isaac might be the best back in the state,” Bitto said. “We couldn’t stop that kid.”
What Sharp loves most is he has Isaac for the rest of this season and next season.
“The thing is he knows he can get better,” Sharp said. “You haven’t seen the best of Ty.”