The Benet defense may have given up 467 total yards, but Redwings coach Pat New told his players they had nothing to hang their head about in a 27-7 loss to Marian Catholic in Lisle on Friday night.
"Our guys played hard," New said. "I know they let up a lot of points, but their backs were up against the wall a lot. Their attitude was great on defense, and they have to keep it up."
Benet's defense held strong on a sticky and excessively warm night. Marian Catholic unleashed their senior running back Jeruel Taylor for 197 yards on 25 carries. Despite their success the Spartans tipped their hat to a stingy Benet defense.
"Jeruel was phenomenal tonight," Spartans coach Dave Mattio said. "But coming here it's tough for us to play. I have a tremendous amount of respect for them."
It was Marian Catholic's defense that set up the first score, as senior linebacker Byron Munoz snared a pass from Benet quarterback Kevin Weller. Munoz rumbled 20 yards to set up quarterback Robert Cifelli's 10-yard run into the end zone.
Benet responded with an 85-yard bomb from Weller to senior Bobby Hayes, drawing even midway through the first quarter.
The Spartans (2-0) answered right back with an 11-play, 73-yard drive that gave them a 13-7 advantage on a Taylor 22-yard run. Benet recovered the ball on a punt that bounced off the leg of a Spartan, resulting in fortuitous field position for the Redwings. After a pass interference penalty pushed Benet to the Spartans 24, Weller's pass was picked off by junior defensive back Patrick Swanson on a tip off a Benet receiver.
Benet (0-2) came close again in the second half, marching 83 yards down the field only to get stuffed at the 1-yard line on a run by Odom. The drive was set up by three crisp passes from Weller, who finished the game with 206 yards through the air. But the missed opportunities stung the Redwings.
"It was a huge disappointment," New said. "When you're fourth and goal from the half-yard line, you have to score."
The Spartans finally ended the defensive chess match when receiver Randall Wells snagged a 27-yard pass from Cifelli, and Taylor finished the drive off with a 3-yard touchdown run.
On the first play of the next Benet drive, Spartans junior Justin Harris picked off an overthrown pass, setting the Spartans up on the Benet 38. The Spartans scored again, this time on a 15-yard strike from Cifelli to Wells. While the 2-point conversion failed, Marian Catholic held a comfortable 25-7 lead with 7:44 left in the contest.
Benet fumbled on their next possession, and then following a defensive stop, yielded a safety on a 3-yard loss. Although the scoreboard showed a lopsided score, the contest seemed much closer.
"You just have to keep fighting," New said. "And I'll keep stressing that to the guys."