St. Viator has had its share of struggles defensively this season, giving up a combined 114 points in their first two games.
While the Lions dropped their third East Suburban Catholic Conference game of the season, the defense showed some flashes of improvement in Marist's 35-0 win in Arlington Heights on Friday night.
"I thought we got a little better defensively," said St. Viator coach Chris Kirkpatrick. "Offensively, we played bad. But our defense got some stops and we put them in some bad situations."
Redhawks quarterback Ian Woodworth did more than enough to bolster a stingy Marist (2-1, 2-0) defense. The junior threw 3 touchdowns, two to sophomore Nic Weishar (5 catches, 97 yards), and led an offense that capitalized on several Lion turnovers.
St. Viator (0-3, 0-3) was unable to stop Weishar in the first half. Woodworth continually lofted the ball up to the 6-foot-5 Weishar, including a 20-yard lob pass to put Marist up 7-0 midway through the first quarter.
"I play basketball so that's helped me a lot because you have to jump up and get rebounds," Weishar said. "It's the same exact thing as a receiver in football. I use my size the best that I can."
On the ensuing possession, St. Viator started moving the ball thanks to some strong running from Shane Rooney. But the Redhawks defense forced a fumble and another Weishar touchdown grab culminated an 11-play drive.
"You can't turn the ball over against a good team and they are a good team," Kirkpatrick said. "We had a couple of turnovers and it hurt us."
The momentum appeared to be turning the Lions' way at the end of the second quarter. The Redhawks elected to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1 and St. Viator stuffed the ballcarrier.
But three plays later, Marist defensive back Cody Bohanek picked off Mickey Macius' pass with just 14 seconds to play in the first half and returned it 12 yards to the Lions' 5. Woodworth connected with Ryan Carroll on the next play to send the visitors into halftime up 28-0.
"I saw the quarterback roll out and I undercut it and just made sure I caught it," Bohanek said. "It was a big play to create a turnover and get another score right before the half."
Sophomore running back Peter Andreotti added touchdown runs of 63 and 3 yards to Marist's versatile attack.
The Lions best chance to score came in the third quarter when Rooney busted through the line and sprinted 35 yards down to the Redhawks' 3. But St. Viator was unable to get the ball in the end zone and turned the ball over on downs.
"Our defense played tremendous tonight," said Marist head coach Pat Dunne. "We tell our guys to zero in on every play with maximum effort and that's all you can ask."
The schedule doesn't get any easier for a St. Viator team plagued with injuries as it travels to perennial power Joliet Catholic next week.
"This game isn't any different than life," Kirkpatrick. "You have to keep going."