Daily Herald's 2017 Season Coverage
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updated: 8/30/2014 10:17 PM

Rolling Meadows regroups, edges St. Viator

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By Greg Swiderski
Daily Herald Correspondent

The Rolling Meadows defense saw St. Viator's offense put up 27 second-quarter points to lead 27-20 at intermission.

But then it was Meadows' defense which stepped up to shut down the host Lions in the second half to eke out a 29-27 win.

The game, which started Friday night at Forest View, was halted with 6:26 left in the first quarter and Rolling Meadows (1-0) leading 7-0. That's when a lightning delay occurred and an 11 p.m. curfew was imposed.

The nonconference game finished Saturday afternoon.

Meadows' Peyton Dezonna came up with one of the two defensive plays of the game.

Tied at 27 in the third quarter, Dezonna beat his defender to block Sal Cannella's punt at the Lions' 20-yard line.

The ball bounced into the St. Viator end zone, where Cannella fell on it.

The 2-point safety gave the Mustangs the lead with 6:44 left in the quarter, and that turned out to be the last score of the game.

"I did what I could to make the play," Dezonna said. "I felt I could get around my blocker and when I did I made a dive at the ball and blocked it."

"I knew it would be a fun game, and it was," said Mustangs coach Matt Mishler. "Dezonna just had a great defensive game besides the blocked punt. He's the heart and soul of the defense.

Another core member is Luka Pavlakis. The junior linebacker stopped St. Viator's Ben Dickey on a fourth-and-a-foot for a 2-yard loss with 38 seconds left in the third quarter.

St. Viator had a first down on the Mustangs' 1-yard line but could not punch it through.

"We thought they would try to run Dickey on a motion play up the middle," Pavlakis said. "Our defensive line did a great job holding them up and I was able to plug the gap and make the play."

"That was a great defensive effort," Mishler said.

"We called a timeout on that fourth-down play," said St. Viator coach Brandon New. "We thought about going for the field goal but as a group we decided to go for it."

Both quarterbacks -- Rolling Meadows RJ Mattucci (29 carries, 183 yards, 11-for-13 passing for 90 yards, 2 rushing TDs, 1 passing) and St. Viator's Tyler Johnston (23-for-30, 392 yards, 3 TD passes) performed well in their season debuts.

"It was a good start for Mattucci," said Mishler. "He's a road warrior for us. He just needs to clean a few things up on offense and learn to trust some of his other players more. But that will come."

The Mustangs' Jack O'Neill set a school record with a kickoff return of 99 yards in the second quarter for a 20-14 lead.

O'Neill later caught a 21-yard pass from Mattucci to tie the score at 27 in the third quarter.

Dickey caught 10 passes for 164 yards with 2 touchdowns.

"Today our special teams failed us," New said. "We had a blocked punt, missed a field goal and extra point, and let them recover a short kickoff. That can't happen. We lost a few key players to injuries and that didn't help."

The Lions lost sophomore sensation Darrenota Jackson to a sprained left ankle in the second quarter after he made a 23-yard catch.

Jackson had 3 receptions for 70 yards and rushed three times for 32 yards.

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