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What most thought would be an explosive offensive outburst turned into a defensive struggle.
The St. Viator defense did its job in holding Notre Dame star running back Chris James to 105 yards in 27 attempts.
However, the Dons' defense was also up to the task, returning 2 interceptions for touchdowns in the fourth quarter to snap a 14-14 tie.
A 28-yard return by defensive back Pat McDonaugh was followed by Pat Cravens' 77-yarder, launching Notre Dame to a 28-14 East Suburban Catholic Conference win at Forest View Educational Center in Arlington Heights on Friday.
"Our defense came up strong in the second half," said Notre Dame coach Mike Hennessey, who saw the Dons improve to 5-0 and 2-0 in the conference. "Two pick-sixes for scores, that was magic. We knew they would key on James as most teams do, but that gave some of our other players a chance to do something with the ball."
Quarterback Ryan Greene (16 for 29, 182 yards, 2 TDs) spied Tom Gonzales over the middle with a 36-yard strike on fourth-and-8 with 4:09 left in the half for a 7-0 lead. That capped a 9-play, 62-yard drive.
The Lions ran their two-minute offense to perfection, going 62 yards to score on quarterback Bobby Calmeyn's 10-yard pass to Ben Dickey with :10 left in the first half to tie the score at 7.
A interception by the Luke Fulton at the St. Viator 21 set up sophomore running back Joey McIntyre's 22 yard run with three minutes left in the third quarter, and the Lions led 14-7.
The momenteum shifted, though, as the Dons tied the score at 14 when Dan Proano grabbed a 12-yard scoring pass from Greene with 10:26 left in the game.
McDonaugh intercepted Calmeyn's pass at the Lions 28 and raced down the sideline for the go-ahead score.
"It was a game-changer," said McDonaugh. "I saw the pass coming and I just jumped in front of the receiver. It's always a good feeling when you can get those turnovers."
Cravens' 77-yard return capped a big night as the receiver also caught 7 passes for 75 yards.
"We just made too many mistakes on offense," said St.Viator coach Brandon New. "We dropped about 10 catchable balls. At times it seemed like they had 25 defensive players out there. What we're going to do is go back to the drawing board and figure things out. This was a big game. Instead of 4-1, we're now 3-2 with a tough part of our schedule coming up."
St. Viator did have a good showing from McIntyre, who rushed for 62 yards on 10 carries. Dickey had 7 catches for 89 yards. Calmeyn completed 22 of 49 passes for 181 of the Lions' 253 yards. On defense, lineman Zack Niro was in on 13 tackles while keying on James.
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