The Marmion defense focused on a St. Francis running back who hadn't played a down the first six games of the season, "held" him to 151 yards and a touchdown Friday night and walked away feeling good about itself.
It helped that the Cadets won the Suburban Christian Blue football game 14-6 at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn.
"The big thing was we kept Petrando from breaking a big one, that was the big thing," Cadets coach Dan Thorpe said of St. Francis senior Jack Petrando, playing his first game since tearing the MCL in a knee in July.
"Jack just was in tremendous shape and really worked hard to get himself back," St. Francis coach Greg Purnell said. "I feel bad that we weren't able to get in the end zone a few more times."
"It was very big," added quarterback/defensive back Charlie Faunce of stopping Petrando. "We knew that their running backs are the key to their offense. They like to run, they want to run and they're really good at it. The fact that we could shut them down to 6 points felt really good and really was a moral boost for our defense."
Marmion (2-5, 2-3) took the lead with 8:01 left in the second quarter, Faunce scrambling 23 yards for a touchdown after initially dropping back to pass.
"When we play them it's always been really close, so we knew it was going to be close," Thorpe said. "I was hoping for us to be more explosive offensively."
Petrando ran for his touchdown with 5:05 left in the third quarter on a 3-yard plunge, but the Cadets stuffed the Spartans' 2-point conversion attempt.
Marmion scored again with 10:52 left in the fourth quarter on Jordan Glasgow's 11-yard run up the middle and junior Eddy Graham kicked the extra point for a 14-6 lead.
St. Francis (3-4, 1-4) got the ball twice after that but never drove farther than the Marmion 43-yard line. On fourth-and-2, a false start penalty pushed the Spartans back 5 yards, and Jake Ruddy's fourth-and-7 open-field tackle after a 4-yard pass play stopped the final St. Francis drive with 3:42 left.
"That's what you need. Captains have to step up and make plays," Thorpe said.
"Being 1-5, they really came in here and just really did a good job defensively against us," Purnell said of the Cadets. "You give up 14 points, you should be able to win a game, and we weren't able to convert. A lot of critical motion penalties and holding penalties really affected our drives. If you're not a very explosive offense it's kind of tough to come out of that."