For awhile Benet's defense gave Joliet Catholic about all it could handle.
Then the Hilltoppers got back to basics and rolled to a 35-0 East Suburban Catholic Conference victory at Benedictine University in Lisle on Saturday.
"We knew we had to exceed their level of play, and to an extent maybe we did it," said Benet defensive tackle Charles Melka. "In areas we struggled, but we got it done in the first half and the second half it kind of fell off."
The No. 1 team in Class 5A, Joliet Catholic (5-0, 4-0) ran for 343 yards -- 135 by Ty Isaac, with 3 touchdowns, and 95 apiece by Tyler Reitz and Northwestern-bound Malin Jones, who ran for 2 touchdowns.
Other than a 36-yard pass play that led to Joliet Catholic's first touchdown 7:27 into the first quarter, Benet (0-5, 0-5) gave Joliet Catholic much to discuss.
The visiting Hilltoppers committed 5 penalties before adjusting to Benet's defensive schemes with a 14-play, 78-yard drive capped by Isaac's 1-yard touchdown run.
"Once we got into that rhythm we kind of just stayed with it, at the last drive of the half," said Joliet Catholic coach Dan Sharp. "And then we came out in the third quarter and put a couple drives together."
Jones capped a pair of 9-play Hilltoppers drives with touchdown runs of 14 and 6 yards for a 28-0 lead after three quarters.
Isaac, a junior already owning a litany of Big Ten scholarship offers, caught a 22-yard pass from Craig Slowik that led to Isaac's final score, a 4-yard run for the 35-0 lead at 11:39 of the fourth quarter.
"I think what happened," said Benet coach Pat New, "is we just got after it defensively. We really preached getting 11 after the football. They did a great job, they just couldn't sustain it for the second half."
Out of its triple-option Joliet Catholic gained 27 first downs to 8 by the Redwings. A pair of personal fouls stymied promising Benet drives in the first half. Joliet Catholic played keepaway in the second.
The Redwings, held to just 8 yards rushing, were led by Porter Ontko with 4 catches for 60 yards, and Pat Lyne with 3 catches for 41 yards.
"The defense played really well in the first half to give us a chance to stay in the game, and as an offense we've got to put the ball in the end zone and keep the momentum going, and we weren't able to do that," said Benet quarterback Nick Mankowski, who completed 11 of 22 passes for 133 yards.
"But the fact that we were close to doing it is a positive, especially against a team like Joliet Catholic, something we can build on into the week of preparation versus Notre Dame."