LOMBARD, Ill. -- The most difficult part of Montini’s 52-27 win over Marian Central in the Class 5A quarterfinals may be who to award the game ball to on Saturday.
The Broncos (9-3) certainly didn’t lack notable individual performances on either side of the ball in their win, which avenged a regular-season loss to Marian Central (11-1).
Broncos quarterback John Rhode was 28-of-41 passing for 434 yards and five touchdowns. Wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp caught nine passes for 158 yards and four touchdowns. Joe Borsellino had eight catches for 106 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for two touchdowns.
Montini’s defense had its stars, too. Defensive back Joe Cione intercepted three passes. Defensive lineman Mike Kaiser had three sacks.
Montini coach Chris Andriano didn’t single out one player as his star of the game, but he did feel the team’s four interceptions were the game-changer. Erik Floecker also had an interception for the Broncos.
“I really thought the defense was going to have to be the difference because both offenses are special,” Andriano said. “There’s good players on both sides of the ball. I think the interceptions were the difference on the day for us.”
Montini, the two-time defending 5A champions, will face Kaneland in the semifinals next week.
Early on Saturday, it appeared Marian Central was going to go blow for blow with Montini. The Hurricanes scored on their first drive when quarterback Chris Streveler ran for a 58-yard touchdown. After Montini scored two consecutive times, Marian Central responded with its own touchdown to pull within 14-13 .
But after that, it was all Montini.
Rhode connected with Borsellino for a 7-yard touchdown to put the Broncos ahead 21-13. Two possessions later, Rhode hooked up with Westerkamp for a 44-yard touchdown to go ahead 28-13.
On the following drive, Cione came up with his first interception and returned it to Marian Central’s 1-yard line. A play later, Borsellino bulldozed his way into the end zone and Montini had a 35-13 lead.
Cione added two more interceptions before halftime, and Montini capitalized on the second one with a 33-yard touchdown pass from Rhode to Westerkamp again to go up 42-13.
Cione had a two-interception day before, but never three. The third one was a surprise for him.
“I didn’t think he was going to keep throwing the ball,” said Cione, who has six interceptions on the season. “It ended up he did. The last one I didn’t think I was going to be inbounds, but I looked down and broke on the ball again and got it.”
When Marian Central defeated Montini 21-20 in the regular season, the Broncos were missing Rhode. Back then, the offense didn’t pack the punch it did on Saturday. At halftime, he had thrown for 284 yards and four touchdowns.
“At that point of the season, we weren’t at full strength, so it’s nice to come in this game at full strength and show them what we’re made of,” Westerkamp said. “John again, just watching him, he’s unbelievable. The way he can read the field and everything. Having John is a big plus.”
Streveler was up and down Saturday. He finished 22-of-29 passing for 152 yards and one touchdown and rushed for 126 yards and three touchdowns.
Marian Central’s Nikko Theodorou had 11 receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown.