Westminster Christian no match for Marquette
The Westminster Christian football team is much improved compared to a year ago but nowhere near enough to challenge Northeastern Athletic Conference power Marquette Academy of Ottawa.
The Crusaders -- ranked No. 10 in Class 1A in this week's AP poll -- invaded Elgin Saturday and simply overpowered the Warriors on both sides of the line of scrimmage in a 41-7 victory.
Marquette (6-0, 6-0) outgained Westminster Christian 277-37 in the first half to forge a 35-0 halftime lead, however, the Crusaders saved their most impressive drive of the game for the third quarter. They opened with a 17-play, 72-yard drive that took eight and a half minutes and instituted a running clock.
"Marquette, they execute fantastic," Westminster Christian coach John Davis said. "They do a great job. We had a few of breakdowns on the offensive line, a couple of leaks in there. You can't win games going three-and-out, three-and-out, especially when the other team didn't have to punt to us all day long."
Marquette didn't do anything tricky other than execute coach Tom Jobst's wing-T offense, but the Warriors couldn't stop it. The Crusaders rushed for 332 of their 380 total yards, led by senior running back Jagar Reed (95 yards, 2 touchdowns), senior running back Jordan Pless (89 yards, 3 touchdowns), freshman Max Donahue (61 yards) and 6-foot-4 senior quarterback John Lechtenberg (48 yards, touchdown).
"They just executed what they had to do. They're smart players," Westminster senior linebacker Bobby Scott said. "We prepared for all of what they did, they just ran it well."
Pless and Donahue in particular benefitted from missed Westminster tackles that extended plays.
"They're a good ball team and they have some big guys," said Pless (5-foot-11, 180 pounds), who scored 3 first-half touchdowns. "I was probably shorter than most of them, but coach teaches us how to break tackles, how to play against bigger guys so we can prepare ourselves."
Offensively, Westminster Christian (4-2, 4-2) was held to 145 total yards. Wide receiver Scotty Graziano was responsible for 81 of those yards via 5 receptions, each more acrobatic than the last.
The Warriors' only score came early in the fourth quarter. Trailing 41-0, junior quarterback Tannor Park kept for a 12-yard touchdown.
The loss does little harm to Westminster Christian's playoff push. Heading into the season, Davis figured his team would need to knock off one of the NAC's big three -- Chicago Hope, Rockford Christian Life or Marquette Academy -- to make the playoffs. The Warriors couldn't challenge Hope or Marquette, but their Week 2 victory over Christian Life leaves them needing 2 wins in their final 3 outings against Kirkland Hiawatha (3-2), Williams Bay, Wis. (1-5) and Alden-Hebron (2-3) to make the postseason for the first time.
"We're unfortunately on track to where we thought we might be," Davis said with a wry smile. "I felt that we could have a 7-plus (win) season. This is what I'm hoping and praying for, and I think we're still on track to have a winning season."