LISLE — While not as productive as some recent games, Nazareth’s offense showed versatility Friday in the Roadrunners’ 35-13 East Suburban Catholic victory over Benet at Benedictine University.
Nobody was more multipurpose than Roadrunners’ junior Julian Love, who came up with big plays on offense and defense.
Benet (4-2, 2-2) had a chance to make it a one-possession game after senior defensive Colin Brahler tackled Nazareth senior running back Nolan Dean in the end zone for a safety to make it a 21-5 with 1:31 left in the first half.
“That was a great play by (Colin),” Redwings coach Patrick New said. “He’s one of our best all-around athletes and has stepped up for us all year.”
But sophomore quarterback Jack Sznajder had his pass picked off at the 50 by Love, who weaved around the Redwings players on his way to a touchdown to give the Roadrunners a 28-5 lead going into the locker room.
“It felt great,” Love said about his interception. “We knew they had the momentum after the safety and I think I iced the game on them.”
“After the safety, we got pumped up, and felt like we had the momentum going into the second,” Brahler said. “Then they recovered and hit us in the mouth.”
Nazareth junior quarterback Carson Bartels admitted that the Roadrunners’ high-powered offense sputtered at times.
“Even though it was kind of an off-night for us, scoring-wise, we were able to still execute when we needed to and guys were busting their butts in practice to make this happen for us.”
Five players scored for the Roadrunners (6-0, 3-0) as they came up with big plays when they needed them.
“Tonight felt really good,” Bartels said. “We knew we had to come out ready to play, especially against a good defense like Benet. All week we were mentally prepared and ready to go going into tonight.”
Bartels, who started the offense off with a 3-yard TD run on Nazareth’s first possession, went 6 of 9 passing for 159 yards. He tossed a 36-yard touchdown strike to junior receiver Christopher Simmons in the first quarter. He followed with a 41-yard TD pass to junior receiver Christian Davis to begin the second half.
Meanwhile, the ground game led by running backs Dean and Love kept the Benet linemen and secondary busy. Dean had 19 carries for 120 yards and Love ran 15 times for 55 yards.
“This game was a complete team effort for us,” Roadrunners coach Tim Racki said. “We were able to get everyone involved in the offense and kept them focused on what we needed to do.”
New said mistakes cost his team.
“The game didn’t go as expected, but with the talent Nazareth has you have to play just about perfect and we didn’t make the plays we needed to,” he said.