Many St. Viator football fans showed up wearing Santa Claus hats because school officials tabbed the theme as "Christmas" for Friday's game against Notre Dame.
Unfortunately for the Lions, the Dons played the role of the Scrooge at Forest View Educational Center.
Notre Dame used several big runs and passes to reach the end zone nine times, and it added a bah-humbug safety in a 57-21 East Suburban Catholic Conference triumph.
"You hate to look ahead but when you start out 0-3, there's not much room to go backward if you want to make the playoffs," said Notre Dame coach Mike Hennessey. "We talked about playing the game like a playoff game from the get-go. You are going to play with that kind of pressure anyway if you make the playoffs."
After St. Viator (0-5, 0-5) grabbed a 7-0 lead with 4:59 left in the first quarter on Mickey Macius's 23-yard pass to Kevin Hammarlund, the Dons (2-3, 1-3) struck back less than three minutes later with their own TD.
They capped a six-play 65-yard drive with senior Nick Pieruccini's 33-yard TD pass to Conner Gavin.
The senior quarterback (181 yards rushing, 167 passing) took over in the second quarter, running for a 16-yard TD and passing for 48-yard (Matt Livingston) and 44-yard (Gavin) scores for a 27-7 lead.
"Our linemen (Ryan Walsh, Nick Bargione, Kyle Hinrichs, Rocco Fagiano and Sean Nicholson) were giving us a great push up front," Pieruccini said. "We were able to find the holes running and we were able to go over the top passing."
"Nick did a great job running," Hennessey said. "He took what the defense gave him. He is just a solid player who doesn't make mistakes."
Viator cut the deficit to 27-14 just before halftime when Macius hooked up again with Hammarlund for a 30-yard TD pass. On the play, Macius got good protection from lineman Joe Faerber, Hugh Masterson, Joseph McManus, Sean Carney and Oge Udeogu.
But Notre Dame scored the next 30 points to start the second half.
"They were just better than us," said Lions coach Chris Kirkpatrick. "We just have to try and get better."
Devon Casey's 1-yard run with 7:06 left in the final quarter started the running clock.
The Lions scored the game's final TD when Shane Rooney dashed 3 yards into the end zone with 2:09 left.
The Dons had 4 rushing touchdowns and a safety in the second half.
"Their defense took the pass away with man-to-man coverage," Hennessey said. "The inside traps were there. Our offensive linemen were feeling their oats so we went with the flow of the game."
"We knew it would be a good environment with their fans," Pieruccini said. "We wanted to out-physical them. And our defense stepped up (Aidan McNally returned an interception to the Lions 17-yard line to set up a third quarter TD). We've just got to keep rolling now."