As great as Benet's football team played this postseason, the Redwings needed to be near perfect on Saturday.
East St. Louis made sure that didn't happen.
The Flyers advanced to the Class 7A title game with a 20-0 victory over Benet in the semifinals at Lisle's Benedictine University.
While the No. 11 Redwings (10-3) see their first semifinal run since 2012 end without a trip to Champaign, No. 2 East St. Louis (13-0) heads to the 7A final to face Plainfield North in search of the program's eighth state championship.
"We don't have the best-looking roster, but we work harder than anybody else," said Benet quarterback Jack Sznajder. "We're always ready to get after it every day at practice, and I think that showed on the field."
Benet's defense was tremendous again, but East St. Louis was even better. After Benet had success moving the ball on the game's opening possession, the Flyers held the Redwings without a first down for nearly the next three quarters.
Field possession played a big role in East St. Louis building a lead. The Flyers needed to go only 34 yards to move ahead 8-0 late in the first quarter, a touchdown tallied on Jarrell Anderson's 23-yard run.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game running between the lines, so luckily my line and me worked together well to get the 'W'," Anderson said. "It's a great feeling. After all the stuff we went through, we overcame it all."
Benet held East St. Louis scoreless three times inside the Redwings' 5-yard line, including twice in the first half. With little ability to move the ball, however, the Redwings couldn't hold back the Flyers every time.
East St. Louis put together an 80-yard third-quarter drive to build a 14-0 lead on an 8-yard run by Anderson, who had 26 carries for 147 yards. After Jeff Thomas grabbed an interception for the Flyers just seconds later, quarterback Rey Estes gave his team a 20-0 lead with a 32-yard scoring pass to James Knight.
"This year's been unbelievable," said Benet defensive back Alec McEachern. "We've had so much adversity. No one could have imagined we would be this far. We just thought, why not us?"
Benet advanced inside the Flyers' 30-yard line on its first two possessions, one resulting in a missed field goal that hit the right goal post. The Redwings made it into East St. Louis territory only once in the second half, and that was to the 46-yard line.
Benet managed 106 total yards, including 132 passing yards by Sznajder. The Redwings rushed for minus-26 yards.
"Great group of young men," said Benet coach Pat New. "They're great teammates and very talented football players. They showed that this season."
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