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Taylor University (Ind.)
(13)Saint Xavier
Football - Sat, Sep. 30, 2017

CHICAGO, Ill. – The Saint Xavier defense held strong down the stretch, as the 13th-ranked Cougars secured the victory on Homecoming Weekend, 24-20 over the visiting Taylor Trojans.

Box Score | Season Stats

The Cougars (4-1) jumped out to an early 10-0 lead, beginning with a 20-yard Abdul Mahdi (Bogan HS / Chicago, Ill.) field goal in the opening drive. Taylor (2-2) responded with a 16-play, 61-yard drive, but with first and goal at the SXU 3-yardline, the goal-line defense stood up the Trojans on four straight plays to keep the visitors out of the end zone. Quarterback Justin Hunniford (North Central [Ill.] / Frankfort, Ill.) then led the Cougs on a 95-yard march, resulting in a three-yard Mike Ivlow (Joliet Catholic Academy / Channahon, Ill.) rushing touchdown, the first of two scores on the day for Ivlow.

Taylor would take advantage of a short field following a recovered fumble, closing the gap to 10-7 midway through the second quarter, but on their following drive Trevon Anderson (Bolingbrook HS / Bolingbrook, Ill.) grabbed his first interception of the year, giving the Cougars the ball inside the red zone with 1:17 left before the end of the first half. Four plays later, Ivlow would run it in again, from nine yards out. With 0:21 left on the clock, Taylor would try to put some points on the board before the break, but Robbie Brindley (Nazareth Academy / Clarendon Hills, Ill.) intercepted another pass to end the drive and give the Cougars a 17-7 halftime lead.

The Trojans would make it a one-possession game again early in the third quarter, with a 28-yard pass on fourth-and-11 to cut the SXU advantage to 17-14. The Cougars responded with a seven-play drive and a ten-yard Mark Strbjak (Northern Illinois / Munster, Ind.) TD run to go back up by ten.

Again the visitors bounced back, scoring on a 14-play, 70-yard drive in which they twice converted on fourth down. The Trojans fumbled the snap on the extra point attempt, giving the Cougars a four point edge.

Leading by just one possession, the SXU defense kept Taylor pinned deep inside their own territory over the final two drives. With 4:11 remaining the offense took over following a three-and-out, and the Cougars ran nine plays to run the clock out and ending any chance of a Trojan comeback.

The SXU defense held Taylor to just 127 yards passing, taking three interceptions in the win. Linebacker Khristian Lett (Thornwood HS / South Holland, Ill.) led the way, finishing with 12 tackles and a sack. Tionte McDaniel posted ten tackles with an interception, while reigning MSFA Defensive Player of the Week Kevin Block (Plainfield North HS / Plainfield, Ill.) grabbed his second interception in as many games.

Offensively, Hunniford finished with 206 yards on 21-of-34 passing; Drey Devereaux (Hobart HS / Michigan City, Ind.) was his favorite target, making five catches for 57 yards. Ivlow led the team in rushing, with 62 yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns.

The Cougars will now rest up during the bye week, before they set their sights on the start of Midwest League play. SXU will host Trinity International on Saturday, October 14, with kickoff set for 1:00 p.m.