Benet returns, falls short vs. St. Rita

Benet's football team has had bad luck with cancellations this season, sustaining three in the past three weeks.

Friday, the Redwings were finally back on the field, albeit against a potent opponent in St. Rita.

There was some rust, sure, in a 34-20 setback to the Mustangs, but wins and losses weren't the point. Just ask senior quarterback Nick Bafia.

"Nothing beats Friday night lights out here with the guys I ride with every single day in practice and in games," Bafia said. "I go to war with these guys."

Bafia was tough as nails Friday, rushing for a 36-yard touchdown early in the third quarter, a play that was set up by his own 33-yard run. That cut St. Rita's lead to 28-7 at the time, but you know, once you catch that first break, things can turn around quick.

Fast-forward to 5:18 left in the third quarter. Benet's Giancarlo Hall picked off St. Rita quarterback Tommy Ulatowski, and three plays later, the Redwings were in the end zone again, this time courtesy of a 3-yard run by Carson Forney.

The extra point was no good, but still, Benet (1-1) had cut the lead to 28-13. Was yet another break in the offing?

Well, no, actually. On his ensuing drive, Ulatowski found senior wideout Isaiah Bragg from 25 yards out. That put the game out of reach for Benet, though Bafia found receiver Augie Mazza for an 11-yard touchdown late, once again set up by Bafia's 32-yard run.

"He's one of the main guys that battles. He's a warrior," Benet coach Pat New said of Bafia.

It wasn't all seashells and balloons for the Benet offense. Bafia got intercepted twice and sacked five times. That was rust.

Then there were those 28 points the Redwings spotted the Mustangs in the first half, highlighted by an 81-yard touchdown run from junior Kaleb Brown. Sound familiar? Brown was the guy that beat up on Benet the last time they played, a 37-16 loss in 2019.

Still, New was heartened by his team's never-give-up posture.

"I think the No. 1 thing is, they've got a lot of heart and they battle," he said. "That's what told them after the game. I was proud of the way they played, despite losing. That's all we can ask of our team."

There's only one more game remaining on the shortened spring schedule for Benet, a trip to Nazareth next weekend. Bafia and the seniors will graduate, but they'll be replaced by guys like sophomore Pierce Walsh.

"Spring ball was just a learning curve for me, and hopefully it will help with junior year coming up," he said.

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