Maybe Benet's football players just needed a reminder that there were a lot of alumni watching them in the stands at Benedictine University on Friday night.
"When we went in at halftime, I told these guys, it's homecoming weekend," Benet coach Pat New said. "Seniors, this is such a critical game. It's your choice, how are you guys going to go out? And they made the decision that they had to establish themselves up front, and they did in the second half, to their credit."
Benet wore down visiting Glenbard South in the second half of their nonconference game, scoring 28 points for a 35-14 victory in Lisle.
Benet running back E.J. Howe ran for 168 of his 195 yards in the second half.
"We started running the ball behind our big boys,"Benet senior Connor Nelligan said. "E.J. did a great job running the ball. We just pounded the ball between our tackles."
Turnovers and injuries proved too much for Glenbard South (1-4) to overcome. The Raiders entered the game without six starters, two of them two-way players, and lost a couple of more during the game.
"We came out with some fire," Raiders coach Jeremy Cordell said. "I'm proud of them for that. But we can't shoot ourselves in the foot. That's the difference between winning the football game and losing the football game."
Late in the second quarter with the scored tied at 7, Glenbard South drove inside the Benet 20-yard line, but on the 10th play of the drive the Raiders fumbled the ball away.
"That was a big play. That stopped their momentum and took it into half a tied game," Nelligan said.
"It was huge," Cordell added. "We had all the momentum going in the world. I think we were ready to play a good football game tonight."
But sustained drives helped Glenbard South keep the game close in the first half by keeping the ball away from Benet's offense.
"We only had like three series in the first half because they really controlled the ball well," New said. "That was big, the fact that we could get a stop defensively, get some turnovers. But the lack of production in the first half is really more the defense's fault."
Howe broke the tie midway through the third quarter with a 4-yard touchdown run around left end.
Late in the quarter the Raiders fumbled again, giving the Redwings (3-2) the ball at the Glenbard South 43. Five players later Pat Boyle crossed the goal line from 3 yards out and a 21-7 Benet lead.
"We needed some breaks in addition to just playing hard, and fortunately the ball bounced in our favor," New said.
On the Raiders' next play from scrimmage, Benet linebacker Jim Lynch intercepted a Raiders pass and returned it to the Glenbard South 23-yard line. Two plays were all Howe needed to make the score 28-7.
Sophomore running back Matt Loos scored on a 2-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 28-14 with 6:16 to play, but five plays later Nelligan caught his second touchdown pass of the game from quarterback T.J. Rickert.
Loos, a sophomore, finished with 107 yards for the Raiders. Classmate Trent Pohlman, starting at middle linebacker for the injured Nick Boesso, had his name called over public-address system after making numerous tackles.
"Trent did a good job. He's still got a lot to learn, but I'm proud of the way he stepped up," Cordell said.