It doesn’t matter that the Benet football players didn’t award their 24-10 victory many style points.
What matters is they won their Class 7A first-round playoff game Friday night in Lisle and will host Oswego in the second round next week.
“A win’s a win, but it was a bit sloppy on both sides of the ball,” said senior defensive lineman Charles Melka, who was in on two sacks. “... We’ve got to get back on it. We came out lucky. We survived this first round, but Oswego is not going to be as nice.”
“Somebody just said it feels like a tough win,” said Redwings coach Pat New, sounding more upbeat about the game than his players. “Well I’m not surprised. These are all playoff teams. That’s a darned good team right there. So I’ll take it. I’m pretty happy with getting a win.”
Trailing 3-0 midway through the first quarter, the Redwings launched a 14-play drive that nearly killed the quarter, ending with Nick McTarnaghan’s 15-yard touchdown on a screen pass from sophomore quarterback Jack Beneventi.
The second-seeded Redwings (9-1) struck again on their next possession, this time needing just 6 plays and 1:40 on the clock. Senior fullback/linebacker Jack Crain crashed into the end zone from 3 yards out.
The Redwings went into halftime with a 14-3 lead, but only after sweating out the final seconds. Andrew forced a fumble on the final play of the first half, and the Thunderbolts’ Ryan Supple picked it up and started rumbling toward the end zone.
“I thought he was going to get in there,” Andrew coach Jim Malec said.
McTarnaghan had other ideas, hustling to knock Supple out of bounds at the Benet 1-yard line with no time left on the clock.
“McTarnaghan, the kid has an incredible motor. He might be a little bit smaller, but he knows how to hit,” Melka said. “He saved us there. That would have been huge if they’d scored.”
After a John Duvic 33-yard field goal gave Benet a 17-3 fourth-quarter lead, No. 7 seed Andrew (6-4) answered with its best offensive play of the game, an 81-yard Jarvion Franklin touchdown run with 10 minutes left. It was the Thunderbolts’ first first down of the second half.
“(Franklin) is just a tremendous athlete, and he just found that hole, cut it back on us and kind of caught us on our heels. We can’t let that happen again,” Melka said.
“That running back was pretty tough,” New added, “so I was really pleased with the way our defense played tonight.”
Franklin’s touchdown just seemed to make the Redwings mad, and they responded with a drive that took nearly five minutes off the clock. They ended the drive by scoring another touchdown of their own, this one on a 21-yard Beneventi pass to junior tight end Nick Surges.
“The best part is it just ran time off the clock, which really helped us a lot,” Melka said. “But once again it was a sloppy game on both sides of the ball, and we’ve got to clean it up.”
“Our defense played well,” added Benet running back/safety Porter Ontko, who ended Andrew’s final possession of the game with an interception at the Benet 9-yard line. “I mean, I didn’t, but we held on there. We got the points we needed to. We got it done. We’re waiting for Oswego. We’re excited to make a playoff run.”Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.