Victor Karam felt less than confident as his 41-yard field-goal attempt bounced off the top of the crossbar and floated toward uncertainty.
"I thought, 'I'm going to miss this kick,' " he said.
Not on this night.
Karam matched a personal record by kicking four field goals and the Redwings' defense notched their second shutout of the season in a 26-0 victory over Hononegah in Saturday's Class 7A second-round football game at Benedictine University in Lisle.
Seventeenth-seeded Benet (8-3) will make consecutive quarterfinal appearances for the first time in program history, advancing to play at No. 9 Lincoln-Way Central (10-1).
"Coach said this game was going to have a lot of field goals, and for me I'm glad it did," Karam said. "I do welcome the pressure. It's what I train for and it's part of the job."
A defensive slugfest slowly went Benet's way as the game progressed. As it turned out, the Redwings needed only Karam's 28-yard field goal midway through the first quarter.
Benet limited No. 1 Hononegah (10-1) to 112 total yards as the Redwings sacked quarterback Ryan VanSchelven five times in the second half. Ben Cooney and Devin Petersen each snared interceptions.
The Redwings may not have finished many drives with touchdowns, but the defense was in it for the long haul and Karam up to the task while piling up 14 points with his right foot.
"We had a game plan to stop the run, and we did it, and then they were just passing and our DBs are amazing," said Redwings defensive lineman John Benish. "We wanted (the shutout) real bad."
Hononegah's defense looked just as stingy early on, but Benet gradually won the field-position battle. A Colin Gillespie punt pinned Hononegah at its 1-yard line, and Benet got the ball back at the 33 after one of Hononegah's 10 punts.
Six plays later, Gillespie rolled out and found Jack Eschenbach for a 3-yard touchdown and a 10-0 halftime lead. Ben Hickey, who had 19 carries for 140 yards, scored on a 15-yard third-quarter run to boost the lead to 17-0.
"When you look at championship runs, you need that solid defense," said Benet coach Pat New. "That's what the mindset is going in this year."
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