St. Rita ousts Prospect for 2nd straight year
DJ Stewart and St. Rita had too much for Prospect Friday.
Stewart, a highly-touted running back, pounded Prospect for 200 yards and a touchdown as St. Rita eliminated the Knights 38-21 in the Class 7A playoffs.
It was the second year in a row that St. Rita knocked out Prospect. The Mustangs beat the Knights in the Class 7A semifinals a year ago.
"The frustrating part is that our team is better than a second-round exit," Prospect coach Dan DeBoeuf said. "I think we had enough to win this game. We just didn't play our best."
Stewart and the huge Rita offensive line had a lot to do with that. Stewart was able to carry the ball 36 times, with 20 of those and 164 yards coming in the second half.
"We knew that's what they were going to do," DeBoeuf said. "They are a super-tough team."
After a scoreless first quarter, 12th-seeded St. Rita (9-2) broke out to a 14-0 lead in the second quarter.
The Mustangs, who will meet the winner of Saturday's game between St. Charles North and Hoffman Estates, got a touchdown run and pass from quarterback Jett Hilding.
Prospect (9-2), which was seeded fifth, had its high-powered offense stymied heading into the wind in the first quarter. But trailing 14-0 and the wind at their backs, the Knights went to work.
They drove 57 yards in just five plays with Brad Vierneisel scoring on a one-yard sneak to cut the lead to 14-7.
On their next possession, the Knights went right back to work. They drove 60 yards with Vierneisel connecting with Jake Parisi on a five-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 14-14.
St. Rita broke back on top with a touchdown run by Stewart and a wide-open 14-yard touchdown pass from Hilding to Owen Manning to lead 28-14.
Prospect tried to come back again from two scores again. Vierneisel directed a 14-play, 80-yard drive that culminated with a 14-yard pass to Frank Covey to make it 28-21.
But that's as close as the Knights would get.
Holding threw his third touchdown pass of the night. Then after an interception by the Mustangs, Alabama-commit Conor Talty kicked a 25-yard field goal.
"I liked our plan and we showed flashes," DeBoeuf said. "But it seemed every time we were going to turn the corner, we made a big mistake or something would happen within the game."
DeBoeuf said his team found themselves with lots of green turf in front of their offense thanks to poor field position.
"I think field position played a big part too," DeBoeuf said. "They have a really good kicker. And that showed. We kept getting pinned and fell into what they wanted to do. To keep it away from us and run the ball."
Vierneisel, who finished 13-of-23 for 136 yards while rushing for another 60 yards, said the Prospect offense could not get anything going against a staunch Mustang defense.
"It was not the outcome we wanted," Vierneisel said. "We fought hard to the end. Things just weren't clicking tonight. They (St. Rita) came out with a real good game plan."
Covey, who is committed to Northwestern, finished with 6 receptions for 58 yards.
"You could see flashes of the game where we were clicking and playing real well, "Covey said. "But we just couldn't put it together for the whole game."
Covey said that he couldn't have been happier than to play at Prospect.
"It was the best decision of my life coming to this school," Covey said. "I love all my teammates and my coaches. I have been here four years and they treat me like family."