McGrath, Lisle too much for Seneca
Here's what Mark McGrath, Lisle's do-everything senior quarterback/running back/defensive back/kicker, did on Friday night when the Lions hosted Seneca: 10-yard touchdown run, 28-yard TD catch from brother Jay McGrath, 62-yard interception return for a score, 8-yard sack of Seneca quarterback Hunter Greve and two PAT kicks.
And that was only in the first quarter.
By the end of that period, Lisle had opened a 20-0 lead on the way to a 47-6 defeat of the Fighting Irish in the Interstate Eight Conference Small Division opener for both teams.
"It was the start of conference, so we wanted to come out firing and set the tone," McGrath said. "We're ready to go after our goal, which is to win conference."
While Mark McGrath was the highlight performer on offense for the Lions (2-1, 1-0), the unit did get a boost from the return of Grant Haen, who had missed the first two games of the season with injury, but returned to compile 68 yards rushing with TD runs of 2 and 15 yards in the third quarter. His contributions helped Lisle put up its best offensive performance of the season, with 353 total yards, 292 of which came on the ground.
"Against Coal City, I think we had 10 illegal procedure penalties that cost us some big plays and a couple scores (in a 13-8 loss last week), and we're still breaking in five new starters on the offensive line, so it's a process and we were better today," coach Paul Parpet Sr. said.
Mark McGrath's TD run and catch came in the game's first five minutes as he capped Lisle's first possession with the ground score and then on the first play after Stephen Populorum recovered a Seneca (2-1, 0-1) fumble -- his first of two on the night -- McGrath broke free behind the Fighting Irish defense for an easy pitch-and-catch score from his younger brother.
Mark McGrath was even able to get some quick redemption for a rare mistake during the second quarter as his fumbled punt helped set up Greve's 6-yard scoring pass to Zachary Stanley to make it 20-6. But on the first play after the ensuing kickoff, McGrath broke off a 51-yard run and followed it up on the next play with his second 10-yard TD run to make it 28-6 at halftime.
Haen's TDs upped the advantage to 40-6 after three quarters before Lisle's Jared Hunter fashioned a do-it-yourself 8-carry drive that covered 93 yards, including a 38-yard scamper to paydirt to close the scoring.
Seneca was able to muster just 108 total yards and only 47 on the ground on 40 carries. Mark McGrath had a simple explanation: "Mark Pivek," he said, referencing Lisle's senior linebacker. "When he's out there, people don't score much."
For his part Parpet is happy to have the elder McGrath and Pivek on his side.
"Mark McGrath is one of the best players in the state, and so is Mark Pivek," he said. "It was also nice to get Grant Haen back out there; he gives us another weapon."