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It was only fitting that Benet hosted Saturday's Class 7A semifinal football game against Lincoln-Way East on the campus of Lisle neighbor Benedictine University. As they have done all season long, the Redwings certainly gave it the old college try.
The Redwings fell short to the Griffins, who feature a quarterback who will play Division I football next year, 37-13.
A packed house of around 5,000 people -- many decked in Benet's red & white -- saw Benet's storybook season come to an end. After a disappointing 1-8 record in 2011, the Redwings turned things around this season in a big way to finish 11-2.
"We did everything we could this year to show that we are a real football team and came out and gave it our all," said Benet senior wide receiver Jack Euritt, who had 6 catches for 136 yards, including 2 touchdowns receptions. "Every single game was a memory. Our Marist win (Oct. 12) was definitely when we came together as a full team and knew that we could get it done."
"I am so proud of them," added Benet coach Pat New. "We lost to a great football team. I think we gave it our all, all season long. To end up 11-2, they should be proud of themselves."
Lincoln-Way East (13-0) will face undefeated Glenbard West (13-0) for the state title at 4 p.m. next Saturday.
Against the Redwings the Griffins showed their prowess on both sides of the ball, surging to a 31-0 lead at halftime. Their offense is led by dynamic quarterback Tom Fuessel, who will play at Northern Illinois next year. Fuessel is hard to catch. He ran for 100 yards on 15 carries and 2 touchdowns. One of those runs was highlight-reel material. On the option he faked a pitch to one side and then completely reversed course up the field, following his blockers for a 83-yard touchdown run.
Fuessel also passed for another score.
Running back Nick Colangelo was also impressive for Lincoln-Way East as well. He piled up 187 yards on 32 carries, including a pair of touchdown runs. As a team, the Griffins collected 503 yards of total offense. In the first half when they did most of their scoring, their defense limited Benet to a collective 33 yards of offense.
"Give our kids a lot of credit for getting off to a great start," said Lincoln-Way East coach Rob Zvonar. "We were clicking on all cylinders in the first half in all phases of the game, especially with the offense with their drives and finishing. It was also a pretty gritty defensive effort against a tremendous passing attack."
The Redwings picked it up in the second half, and their defense limited the Griffins. Players like senior linebackers Jack Crain and Tim Veselik and defensive lineman Steve Hubona came up with big stops. On offense Euritt scored on passes on 36 and 25 yards from quarterbacks Jack Beneventi and JT Crosby. Mistakes plagued Benet, though, as it turned over the football 5 times.
"To beat a team like Lincoln-Way East, you have to play mistake-free football," New said. "Even if you did that, that may not be enough."