Benet offense pulls its weight

Updated 11/11/2017 7:04 PM
  • Bev Horne/borne@dailyherald.comBen Cooney of Benet Academy football.

    Bev Horne/borne@dailyherald.comBen Cooney of Benet Academy football.

So many times Benet's football team has leaned on its defense.

With the season on the line on Saturday, the offense took the weight.

Colin Gillespie's 50-yard touchdown pass to Nick Keyes midway through the fourth quarter rallied Benet to Saturday's 14-10 victory over Lincoln-Way Central in the Class 7A quarterfinals in New Lenox.

The 17th-seeded Redwings (9-3) -- after knocking off the 16th, first and ninth seeds -- face No. 4 Batavia (11-1) next week as Benet plays in the semifinals for a second straight year.

"We knew it was going to have its ups and downs, but we came out on top," said Gillespie, who threw for 109 yards. "We've worked really hard and we've been here before. We want that one more game. That's been our mentality all year."

Benet's defense was great again, especially on the final drive by the Knights (10-2). They started on their own 15-yard line with 6:23 left and drove to a fourth-and-11 at the Redwings' 34. An incomplete pass with under a minute to play sealed the win for Benet.

"We were getting a little nervous but our team has always been resilient," said Benet defensive back Ben Cooney. "We've always been able to bounce back and we showed it right there. It was a heck of a game, and they're an amazing team. A few plays went our way and a few plays went theirs, but we ended up on top. I couldn't be any more proud of our guys."

It didn't look good in the second half for Benet, which led 7-0 at halftime on Gillespie's 27-yard touchdown pass on a middle screen to Ben Hickey, who rushed for 68 yards, on the Redwings' opening drive in the first quarter.

Lincoln-Way Central tied the game 7-7 on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Sam Pipiras to Matt Pollack at the back of the end zone. A short field allowed the Knights to take a 10-7 lead with 30 seconds left in the third quarter on a 20-yard field goal by Dimitri Sereleas.

The Knights got the ball right back when the Redwings fumbled the kickoff -- their third fumble of the game -- but the defense held with a red-zone stop at the 15.

After trading punts, Gillespie found Keyes for the game-winner.

A defensive struggle saw Benet outgain the Knights 241-206 in total yards as the teams combined for 12 punts. Cooney and Billy Lawler snared interceptions for Benet.

"I know we're going to be in a close game no matter who we play," said Benet coach Pat New. "When you have a strong defense it can keep you in every game."

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