By Steve Metsch
Jimmy Rolder made two interceptions to contribute to a stifling defensive effort, Jamari Grant ran for two touchdowns and Marist blanked Nazareth, 13-0, on April 10 in LaGrange Park.
The Roadrunners were driving and threatening to score in the third quarter when Rolder, a junior linebacker, stepped up in a big way. After a holding call nullified a rushing touchdown, Rolder picked off a pass at the goal line to preserve a 6-0 RedHawks lead.
Nazareth junior quarterback Aidan Pieper (9 of 19 for 81 yards) was trying to find a receiver in the end zone on 3rd-and-goal from the 14 with 5:07 left in the third quarter.
“We’re right there in the red zone,” Pieper said. “We’ve got to look at just punching it in. But I love this team, I trust this team. I know we’re going to be back.”
Rolder, listed at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, called the clutch interception “exciting.”
“I was kind of floating in my zone and I saw the receiver come across the middle,” he said “My eyes kind of lit up on that one.”
Nazareth coach Tim Racki — who has made clear this odd pandemic-shortened six-game season is about giving everyone a chance to play — took the pick-off in stride.
“I tell all our quarterbacks, you look at the NFL, look at Division I, they all throw picks,” Racki said. “It’s part of the game. There’s nobody that’s perfect. You just learn from mistakes.”’
Rolder’s second interception came in the fourth quarter with Marist still clinging to a 6-0 lead and Nazareth facing 2nd-and-11 near midfield.
Grant, meanwhile, provided most of the Marist offense, carrying 30 times for 156 yards.
The game was scoreless after one quarter when Marist (3-1) started at its own 29-yard line with 10:25 to play in the second quarter.
A 15-yard run by junior quarterback Dontrell Jackson Jr. and two offsides calls on Nazareth (2-1) helped put Marist on the Roadrunners’ 23-yard-line.
From there, it was all Grant.
He carried three times for 17 yards, then scored from the one with 5:14 left in the first half.
“He’s a tough runner,” Racki said. “We knew that going in.”
Rolder’s second interception set the stage for Grant’s second touchdown. After the pick, Marist quickly moved from its own 44 to Nazareth’s 1, from where Grant scored with 9:43 left in the fourth.
“We came through in the second half,” Grant said. “We had that mentality to get as many (points) as we could.”
Nazareth’s Andrew Hughes, a 6-foot-3, 270-pound senior lineman, wanted to beat Marist in his final game against the Chicago Catholic League/East Suburban Catholic Conference rival.
“Obviously, it’s not the outcome we wanted, but we can head home knowing that we fought our best,” Hughes said.
“Marist is a great football team and we knew that coming in,” Racki said. “My kids were disappointed after the game. However, we fought the entire game.”
Quentrell Harris led Nazareth with 35 yards on three receptions.
“I always tell my kids I want max effort, full speed for 48 minutes, and they displayed that,” Racki said. “In terms of what I expect as a head coach, we could not have done anymore.”
Nazareth hosts Niles Notre Dame at noon Saturday. Marist hosts St. Patrick at 7:30 p.m. Friday.