CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) - Nolan Dean ran for 199 yards and two touchdowns, while Julian Love added a touchdown and a big interception to lead Nazareth Academy to its first football state title on Saturday by defeating Lemont 26-7 at the IHSA Class 6A state championships.
Love picked off Lemont quarterback Ryan Dawson in the end zone to stop a potential game-tying drive late in the first half.
“That was big. And it was nice to see the defense, which played great all season but doesn’t have boo said about them, get a big play there,” said head coach Tim Racki, who won his sixth state title after winning five at Addison Driscoll. “That made me feel really good about them.”
Dean ran for just 52 yards in the first half, but then he ran for 147 after the break. He scored on a 1-yard run in the first to give the Roadrunners the lead, and his 27-yard run with just more than 10 minutes to go in the game sealed it.
“He makes us look good a lot of times, for sure,” lineman Jack Shutack said. “Between him and J-Love, we look better than we are sometimes.”
Dean credited the entire team for the win, adding: “There were big holes and I just ran through them.”
The Roadrunners (14-0) were in control from the start, holding Lemont (13-1) to just 202 yards overall and forcing three turnovers.
“It’s evident that they are good,” Lemont coach Brett Kooi said. “They’re coached well, they play hard and they execute. I thought we had some shots today. We had a chance to tie it up and they made a big play. That was huge.”
Jonah Beauduy threw for another score Nazareth Academy.
The Indians were led by Thomas Bleka’s 54 yards rushing, while Flynn Nagel added 70 receiving. Nagel entered the game with 31 touchdowns but did not score.
“I thought we did some nice things and then we didn’t,” Kooi said. “We hurt ourselves and they did some things that stopped us. The turnovers certainly didn’t help.”
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