Fenwick quarterback Marek Hill looks for a receiver against St. Francis on Sept. 15. Hill threw for 301 yards and two scores and added 60 rushing yards in the Friars' 17-16 CCL/ESCC Orange victory over the Spartans. | Carol Dunning

As the Fenwick High School football team rallied in the final minute of its Chicago Catholic League/East Suburban Catholic Conference Orange Division game against visiting Wheaton St. Francis, Sept. 15, a strange occurrence took place.

The lights at Triton College apparently had been set on a timer to turn off at 10 p.m., because that’s precisely what happened with 1st and goal for Fenwick on the Spartans’ 8, trailing by two.

“It felt like a high school movie; it didn’t seem real,” said Fenwick quarterback Marek Hill. 

After about a 20-minute delay waiting for the lights to come back on, the Friars were able to compose themselves and complete the comeback as Noah Sur drilled a 25-yard game-winning field goal for a 17-16 victory.

Fenwick (3-1, 1-0 in CCL/ESCC Orange) sputtered offensively in the beginning. Seven penalties in the first half, including six false starts, hampered the Friars.

But the offense eventually pulled it together and converted the first half’s only score when Hill (23-of-39, 301 yards passing, plus 60 yards rushing) connected with Nate Marshall on a 4th-and-11 play for a 21-yard touchdown pass at the 7:55 mark of the second quarter.

“I’ve been talking to coach, asking him to give me more touches (on offense),” said Marshall (4 receptions, 46 yards). “He got me the ones I needed, and I capitalized on them.”

The Friars’ defense held St. Francis’ star quarterback Alessio Milivojevic in check for the first half. But the Ball State commit got the Spartans (2-2, 0-1) rolling in the third quarter with two scoring drives—a field goal followed by a 51-yard touchdown pass to Zachary Washington—that put St. Francis ahead.

Things looked bleak for the Friars when, on the first play of the fourth quarter, Washington took it in from a yard out. However, St. Francis missed the extra point, one that would prove costly in the end.

Hill threw a pick on Fenwick’s next possession, but the defense managed to hold the Spartans, and the Friars took over from their own 26 with 4:22 remaining. It took just five plays and 59 seconds for Fenwick to get back into the game as Hill found T.J. Smith (5 receptions, 77 yards) open for a 47-yard touchdown pass.

The Friars then tried an onside kick, but St. Francis recovered. However, after allowing a first down, the defense held the Spartans and forced a punt.

Fenwick started its final drive from its 35 with 1:22 left. Hill completed passes of 23 yards to Andrew Bjorson (7 receptions, 63 yards) and 11 yards to Marshall. Then on 3rd and 10 from the St. Francis 33, Hill scrambled for a 17-yard gain and got hit when he was out of bounds, drawing a Spartan penalty that moved the ball to the 8 with :24 left.

Following the lights outage, Hill threw two incomplete passes, then the Friars opted to bring out Noah Sur to attempt a go-ahead field goal from 25 yards out with 10 seconds left. The kick fluttered, but sailed over the crossbar and was good for the game-winner.

“I was trying to be as calm as I can,” Sur said. “I know I’ve made that kick before. I had nerves [before the delay], but not in the moment. I felt confident.”

“I had a lot of faith in Noah,” added Hill. “I told him as he was coming in and I was going off to go win it. We got Noah in position, all he had to do was finish it.”

While Fenwick coach Matt Battaglia lauded his team’s resilience, he added that the Friars need to be more consistent from the start.

“The kids never stopped fighting, and that’s the most important thing,” he said. “We’ve been in this situation a lot since I’ve been here and we haven’t finished. This is the first time we’ve pulled it out. But now I’m hoping we learn from our mistakes so that we’re not in that situation again.”

Fenwick welcomes Niles Notre Dame to Triton on Sept. 22 for Homecoming, with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m.

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