ROLLING ON

Bean to­tals 4 TD passes as Cru­saders fin­ish first un­de­feated reg­u­lar sea­son

Daily Southtown (Sunday) - - Sports - By Pat Dis­abato

In a sea­son filled with dom­i­nant per­for­mances, Brother Rice se­nior Joe Fitzger­ald called Fri­day’s “the best yet.”

The 6-foot-3, 195-pound line­backer wasn’t ex­ag­ger­at­ing.

In a show­down for the Catholic Blue cham­pi­onship, the Cru­saders made it look easy against host Montini.

Quar­ter­back John Bean rushed for three touch­downs and passed for an­other as Brother Rice rolled to a 31-0 vic­tory.

The win capped the first un­de­feated reg­u­lar sea­son in pro­gram his­tory, dat­ing back to 1956.

On two other oc­ca­sions the Cru­saders (9-0, 4-0) started 8-0 — in 2003 and 2016— only to lose to St. Rita and Loy­ola, re­spec­tively.

Even more im­pres­sive, Brother Rice ac­com­plished the feat after go­ing 2-7 in 2017.

Talk about a bounce-back sea­son.

“It feels great, but it’s not a sur­prise,” Fitzger­ald said. “We worked hard for this. We’re junk­yard dogs, blue-col­lar kids.”

As has been the norm, the one-two punch of Bean and run­ning back Jessi Plun­kett car­ried much of the load.

Bean, a 6-foot, 190-pound se­nior, rushed for 143 yards and ran for TDs of 39, 20 and 9 yards on 15 car­ries. Plun­kett added 117 yards on 25 car­ries.

Bean also was ef­fec­tive with his right arm, com­plet­ing 10 of 16 passes for 98 yards and a TD.

Two of Bean’s TD runs came on fourth-down plays. He con­firmed the Cru­saders saw things they could ex­ploit in those sit­u­a­tions.

“We watched a lot of film on them dur­ing the­week,” Bean said. “Those plays worked be­cause of that. But I give all the credit to the of­fen­sive line.”

The O-line of Danny Con­ners, Dan Sul­li­van, Evan Kirts, Ryan McBrearty and John McG­lynn al­lowed the Cru­saders to to­tal 365 yards.

Bean’s 13-yard TD toss to Dy­lan Sum­mers gave Rice a 14-0 lead at the half.

Brother Rice coach Brian Badke cred­ited the run­ning game for wear­ing down Montini (8-1, 3-1).

“We thought up front we could win the bat­tle,” Badke said. “When you have a guy like Johnny Bean at quar­ter­back run­ning the show, you feel re­ally good.”

The de­fense held Montini to 82 yards rush­ing and 3 yards pass­ing. Tim Des­mond re­cov­ered a fum­ble that led to Bean’s TD pass to Sum­mers and Jaysh on Means had an in­ter­cep­tion in the end zone.

But it was the con­stant pres­sure up front by Tyrhen McCoy, Zach Wareyko and Justin Jef­fer­son that bot­tled up Montini’s of­fense.

“The de­fense is a spe­cial group,” Badke said. “It all starts up front with them, too. Those guys get after it.”

JEFF KRAGE/DAILY SOUTH­TOWN

Brother Rice quar­ter­back John Bean rushed for three touch­downs and passed for an­other on Fri­day.

JEFF KRAGE/DAILY SOUTH­TOWN

Brother Rice de­fen­sive back Danny Fitzger­ald (8) is grabbed by Montini wide re­ceiver Matt Ross on a pass on Fri­day. Brother Rice’s de­fense held Montini to 3 yards pass­ing.

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