BLOOMINGTON — Liam Brady and Jonathan Naour have been friends for a very long time.
“We have that connection,” Brady said. “He made a play out of nothing, honestly. That was awesome."
Scrambling after a fake field goal attempt broke down, Naour lateraled to Brady, who sprinted around right end for a 6-yard touchdown to give Central Catholic High School its first points with four seconds left in the first half Friday at Bill Hundman Memorial Field.
The Saints still trailed 14-6 but carried that spark into halftime, and sophomore tailback Jake Slaughter keyed a strong second half as Central Catholic rallied past Olympia, 25-14.
Slaughter rushed for three second-half touchdowns and 185 of his 215 yards after halftime as the Saints snapped a 13-game losing streak.
“I’m very proud of the kids,” said Central Catholic coach Kevin Braucht after his first head coaching victory. “What can you say about Jake Slaughter? Yards after hit? Unbelievable. He’s going to be a good one. He is a good one.”
The Saints improved to 1-3 overall and in the Illini Prairie Conference.
“It feels amazing. Everybody came together the second half,” Brady said. “We decided it was time.”
Olympia (2-2, 2-2) steamrolled the Saints on the opening possession. The Spartans marched 77 yards on 13 plays without a pass. Grant Kessinger rushed for 46 yards, and quarterback Ethan Davis covered the final yard on second and goal.
Kessinger then motored 67 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown on a counter play, and Olympia led 14-0 with 53 seconds left in the first quarter.
A 26-yard pass from Naour to Isaac Whitaker took the Saints inside the Spartans’ 10 late in the opening half.
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On fourth-and-goal from the 6, Central Catholic lined up for a 22-yard Naour field goal. But the snap went directly to Naour, who could not find an open receiver. Under a heavy rush, Naour shuffled the ball to Brady, who did the rest.
“We made a play. That’s something I don’t think we did the first three weeks. When there was a play to be made, we didn’t make a play,” said Braucht. “It was a huge play for us. It was not just the points, but the momentum in general.”
Central Catholic pulled within 14-13 when Slaughter took a direct snap 2 yards for a touchdown two plays after running 31 yards to the 1. Naour’s extra point kick was wide left.
Olympia responded by moving inside the Saints’ 15. But Central Catholic’s Mick Bauer stopped Kessinger for a loss on third down, and Easton Paul hauled down Davis for another loss on fourth-and-5.
“Their kids showed a whole lot of fight. I thought they had a great game plan defensively,” said Olympia coach Eric Lyons. “They pressured us a lot the second half, and we struggled with it. They were able to force us into making some mistakes.”
With Slaughter and Hank Keller doing the damage on the ground, the Saints drove 89 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. Slaughter ran 8 yards for the score and a 19-14 edge at the 11:31 mark of the final quarter.
Slaughter then brook loose for a 34-yard touchdown jaunt with 3:04 left for the final points.
“It feels great. We’re probably going to celebrate for a long time,” Slaughter said. “It’s great to have a win on our field.”
Kessinger had 114 yards rushing after Olympia’s first two possessions and finished with 173 on 20 carries. Landon Alcorn contributed 74 yards on 16 tries.
“We knew they would get to the edge, but we just didn’t make some plays,” Braucht said. “We talked to our players and we started setting the edge and turning everything back to our flow, and our linebackers started making plays. Once we got that settled down, I felt like we were playing physical football."
Keller added 70 yards on the ground on just five carries, and Brady gained 51 on two attempts.