Second half turnaround helps Montini rally past Benet

Montini keeps finding ways to win.

Benet came in to Lombard Friday night and grabbed all the momentum in the first half, playing almost flawless football to grab a 10-0 lead at intermission.

Then the Broncos turned things completely around in the second half, scoring 3 unanswered touchdowns for a 21-10 CCL/ESCC White Division win.

Montini junior wide receiver Santino Florio was the catalyst for the Broncos' rally.

Florio had the key play in the third quarter, a 49-yard reception, and caught 2 long touchdown passes in the fourth.

"Resiliency," said Montini junior quarterback Gaetano Carbonara. "That's a term our coach (Mike Bukovsky) always uses, and that's been our thing all season.

"We're a family first, and that's the biggest thing. We trust each other."

Florio finished with 4 catches for 129 yards, while Benet senior wide receiver Pat Pitello had another stellar night.

Pitello had 10 receptions for 127 yards.

"We had a couple letdowns in the second half," said Redwings coach Pat New.

"But credit Montini (4-0, 1-0) for stepping up, and I knew they would. They're a good football team and they came up with a couple of big plays.

"That was the difference. It was frustrating, and now our guys have to rally back next week."

Benet linebacker Daniel Flores intercepted the first Montini pass of the game, and a few plays later kicked a 25-yard field goal to put the Redwings on the board.

Redwings defensive end Declan Walsh had 2 sacks in the first half to keep the Montini attack at bay, and the offense put a touchdown on the board just before the halftime break.

Pitello caught a 46-yard touchdown pass from QB Ryan Kubacki to make it 10-0 after two quarters.

"They did a lot of good things," said Bukovsky of Benet. "I knew this was going to be a battle."

"Their defense is very active, and they came out with a good game plan. But this is Catholic League football, it was ugly, and you've got to find a way to win these games.

"Now two weeks in a row we've proved that we can dig down when we need it."

Late in the third quarter, Florio caught a pass in the flat from Carbonara and broke 3 tackles down the sideline, racing to the Redwings 1-yard line.

Three plays later, Nick Irion rushed in from 1-yard out as Montini closed to within 10-7.

"That was a little play we designed this week," said Carbonara of the Florio reception.

"We liked what we saw on film and we knew if we motioned away from them and threw a little screen, our line could get out there and hit the DB's. Santino made a great play and our lineman made great blocks."

Florio snagged a 35-yard TD pass early in the fourth period to put the Broncos up 14-10.

Then, with Benet driving in Montini territory, defensive lineman Nicky Castaldo came up with a fumble recovery to stop the Redwings.

Florio closed out the victory with another touchdown catch, over the middle from 36 yards out with just 37 seconds left in the game.

"This is amazing," said Carbonara. "It really shows what hard work and determination can do.

"We've been 3-6 the last two years, and we knew we had to turn it around especially for our seniors, who've never been to the playoffs."

"We have turned things around and now I think we're showing who we are."

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