Benet upsets Joliet Catholic
It's always fun to win, but handing state powerhouse Joliet Catholic its first defeat of the football season in Week 8 is extra special.
Benet had plenty to celebrate after a 24-21 victory Friday at Benedictine University in Lisle.
"This is huge for us," Benet senior running back/linebacker Charlie Weidenbach said. "If we beat Marian Catholic we're 7-2, we might get a home game for the playoffs. We'll get a higher seed. This is huge for our confidence going into the playoffs."
"I'm really happy for our players," Benet coach Pat New added. "These guys worked so hard. I think they might be a little shocked."
It helped the Redwings' confidence that they scored on their first offensive series, Alec McEachern catching a 13-yard pass from quarterback Jack Sznajder.
"We needed to do that," Weidenbach said of getting the early lead. "We hadn't done that in any previous games. We came out like a bat out of (heck) there, just got fired up."
It was 7-7 at halftime.
"A lot of great players just played hard, and coach (Tim) Cederblad, our defensive coordinator, put together a great game plan," New said.
The momentum turned Joliet Catholic's way at the start of the fourth quarter. Cade Earl's 28-yard touchdown pass to Bill Rotnicki cut the Benet (6-2, 4-2 East Suburban Catholic Conference) lead to 17-14, and then the Hilltoppers (7-1, 5-1) recovered an onside kick. They couldn't convert, however, turning the ball over on downs at the Bent 32-yard line.
"We were nervous," Weidenbach said. "They were driving on us that second half, they were doing pretty well. We were able to withstand that. We battled through it."
Joliet Catholic got the ball back three plays later on an interception, but Benet recovered a Hilltoppers fumble two plays after that.
"We just never got anything going offensively in consistent paces," Hilltoppers coach Dan Sharp said. "It's uncharacteristic of our guys, but it's also great play by Benet's defense. We had a couple of drives that penalties took us out of some big plays. So we got the blocked field goal and the onside kick. We needed to cash in there and it was unfortunate that we turned the ball over and were unable to cash in on the momentum of the onside kick."
Benet won a big gamble on its final touchdown. Facing a fourth-and-1 situation at the Joliet Catholic 21-yard line, Benet went for it and found Weidenbach open over the middle with 4:15 to play. He scored, giving the Redwings the insurance touchdown they would need.
Joliet Catholic scored its final touchdown with 1:26 left on Earl's second touchdown pass to Rotnicki. This time the Redwings were ready for the onside kick. They recovered it, McEachern picked up a first down, and Benet went into the victory formation.
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