St. Edward gets back on track by beating Guerin

According to St. Edward wideout Saveon Smith, it could be Geneva's Burgess Field, a parking lot or even a desert, the Green Wave really don't care where they play their home games the rest of the season.

As long as they get to do the things that gave them a 36-19 Metro Suburban East win over Guerin in Geneva Friday, winning takes care of it all.

In fact, on the game's opening kickoff, St. Ed looked as if they had some home cooking going on.

Smith took a lateral on a designed play before the game from quarterback Dylan Mlinarich on the opening kickoff 82 yards down the right sideline, and it wasn't the last time the special teams or big-play ability came through for the Wave to end a 2-game skid.

Caleb Elam, who grabbed an interception and forced a fumble, housed an 82-yard kickoff return of his own later in the first half, while Smith and Dwayne Allen each scored touchdowns in the second half to distance themselves from Guerin, which rattled off 14 points bridging the second and third quarters to take 19-15 lead.

"Coming from (last week's 41-6 loss to IC Catholic) we've been determined in practice," Smith said. "Hard work, no joking around. None of that. We came out strong ready to fight."

Although the Wave (3-2, 1-0) were edged by the Gators (2-3, 0-1) 381-288 in total yards, fight St. Edward did better.

Once the Wave lost the lead on Richie Zacharias' 5-yard run with 9:30 left in the third, senior nose guard Jake French, who moved to linebacker because of all the injuries, snagged a pick over the middle and returned it 41 yards to the Gator 19. That set up Allen's 1-yard run to end a 5-play drive and David Madden's extra point to give St. Edward the lead for good at 22-19 with 2:23 in the third.

Allen, who carried the ball twice in the first half, bounced back from a sprained ankle with 17 carries for 105 yards, with 15 runs coming in the second half.

"I just stuck it out the whole game," Allen said. "If (the injury) went down to 80 or 90 percent then I'd stop running. If it stays neutral or goes up then I'd keep on running and nothing happened to me so I kept running the ball."

It was also a good thing Elam kept running. He chased down wideout John Szczygiel, who caught the ball near the Wave 35, stripped and scooped up the loose ball at the Wave 16. That led to Smith's 55-yard scoring run for a 29-19 lead with 10:04 in the fourth.

"(The turnovers) could have not come at better times," said French. "They swung the momentum entirely in our favor and it was great to have them happen when they did."

Wave coach Mike Rolando echoed that sentiment.

"I thought the defense was outstanding tonight. We had the goal line stands down there. Bend but not break," Rolando said. "It's good to see the defense playing that well and not giving up when they give up a big play or when they have their backs against the wall."

Overall, the Wave bottled 3 turnovers and Smith finished with 54 yards rushing on 7 carries and 2 receptions for 44 yards. Elam rushed for 53 yards on 9 carries and Mlinarich added a 21-yard touchdown pass to Madden with 50 seconds remaining to finish 4 of 8 for 84 yards passing. Lost in it all was Zacharias' 306-yard day in the air on 16 of 34 passes. The Gator run was stopped to just 75 yards but Szczygiel caught 9 passes for 181 yards and a touchdown.

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