Notre Dame defense too much for Antioch in playoff opener

The Dons' 'D' was too dandy Friday night in Niles.

Notre Dame limited visiting Antioch to 41 yards in the first half of its 28-7 victory in a Class 6A first-round playoff game.

"We spent some extra time in film sessions this week because we'd never played against a double-tight, double-wing offense like Antioch's," Dons coach Mike Hennessey said.

"The focus was A and A (Alignment and Assignment), and then our guys pursued theirs relentlessly."

The win earned eighth-seeded ND a trip next week to face top-seeded Wauconda in the second round. The Bulldogs (9-1) routed visiting Schurz 56-6 Friday night.

Notre Dame (7-3) led ninth-seeded Antioch (6-4) 14-0 late in the second quarter at Legends Field and was poised to tally another touchdown when Dons senior quarterback Vincenzo Ricciardi hit junior wideout Quinten Jackson for a 33-yard connection to the Sequoits' 3-yard line.

But Antioch senior linebacker Aiden Niemczyk came up big two plays later, sacking Ricciardi 8 yards behind the line of scrimmage.

An incompletion on fourth down as time expired in the first half kept the game within reach for the visitors.

Antioch yielded only 18 yards on ND's first possession of the second half and then produced a 62-yard scoring drive, capped by an 11-yard pass from senior QB Quade Moll to senior Joey Neumann.

Carter Webb's extra point made it a 14-7 game and lifted the spirits of Sequoits Nation.

Antioch defensive back Payton Holmes then raised them even higher, intercepting a pass and returning it near midfield with 1:49 left in the third quarter.

But a run for no gain and 2 incomplete passes forced Antioch to punt.

ND scored a pair of 1-yard TD runs in the final quarter, each of them set up by lengthy passes from the left-handed Ricciardi (16-for-22 passing, 262 yards, TD, INT).

"We played hard, but we were outmatched upfront," said Sequoits coach Brian Glashagel, whose 2018 squad lost 17-10 to Notre Dame in a Class 6A state quarterfinal. "You could tell from the field and I'm sure you could tell from the booth.

"There will be tears in the locker room, I'm sure. As I look at the seniors in uniform one last time, I know I'll recall images of them as 140-pound freshmen, eager to play for their school and community."

Junior RB Anthony Thome paced ND in rushing (13 carries, 87 yards), and three Dons finished with at least 40 yards receiving: Kevin Durkin (101), Jackson (68) and Howard Williamson (40).

Notre Dame defensive back Anthony Fornelli recorded 2 sacks.

Antioch sophomore Marshall Gehrke recovered a first-half fumble, and senior LB Ryan Raiman dropped a ball carrier for a 2-yard loss on a 4th-and-2 in the first half.

Neumann finished with 4 receptions for 46 yards.

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