Nazareth topples Benet in must-win game for both
Logan Malachuk is only a sophomore, but he's already played in some pretty big football games for Nazareth.
Friday was one of them.
Beat Benet on the road, and the Roadrunners would secure playoff eligibility. But for Malachuk, there was no thought of the alternative. It just didn't enter his mind.
It showed. He went 16-for-24 passing for 189 yards and three touchdowns to lead Nazareth to a 37-7 victory and a likely Class 5A playoff berth at 5-4 overall.
What was his mentality coming in?
"Win," he said simply. "Do whatever it takes. I'll run, I'll pass, I'll hand it off. I just want to win and get to the playoffs.
"I knew we were going to win. I can say that. But by that much? No."
Nazareth left no doubt it meant business Friday. The Roadrunners scored on their first four drives, with Malachuk throwing touchdown passes of 7, 14 and 16 yards, which sandwiched a 4-yard run by do-it-all senior Justin Taylor, a Wisconsin recruit.
Edward McClain Jr. tacked on another touchdown early in the third quarter, followed on the very next Benet play by a safety that put the Roadrunners up 37-0.
And that was that.
"We came in and we put our foot on the gas right away," Taylor said. "We just had to get the momentum going right away, get our foot on the gas, and that was pretty much the motto the whole week."
On the other side of the field, Benet finished 4-5 overall and now has to hope for a lot of luck to slide into the playoffs at either Class 5A or 6A.
The Redwings just couldn't get much going against a stout Nazareth defense, with three passers combining for 6-for-17, two interceptions and three sacks.
"It's one of those things," Benet coach Pat New said. "It was kind of like a whirlwind when the game started. They got those two early scores. We talked at halftime, we were trying to throw everything we had, and nothing seemed to work."
The bummer for the Redwings is that they won three of four entering the game, but found themselves in an almost constant state of being in a third-down situation Friday. Sophomore quarterback Enzo Hins scored Benet's only touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Now both teams await their playoff fate, but Nazareth may have a major advantage in 5A after playing a tough conference schedule, facing several Class 7A and 8A teams.
How dangerous are the Roadrunners? Let Taylor count the ways.
"Everybody kind of overlooks us at 5-4 in the regular season, but if you look at, we played a really tough schedule the first five games," he said. "Just coming down to 5A and playing teams in our class, I think we'll start off really fast and be really dangerous."