Second-half blitz sends Benet past St. Viator

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Most Benet players would likely admit the Redwings’ first-half performance Friday night against St. Viator wasn’t up to lofty standards.

Fortunately, it’s a 48-minute game.

No. 8 Benet used a 24-point second half to pull away for a 38-14 East Suburban Catholic victory over St. Viator at Benedictine University in Lisle.

Junior quarterback Jack Beneventi threw for 157 yards and a pair of scores while junior running back Brad Sznajder accounted for 251 total yards and two touchdowns to pace the offensive attack for the Redwings (6-0, 3-0).

“We felt like we didn’t really capitalize on all the chances to score when we were in their end, so [the coaches] just told us we had to execute better and play hard and seal this game,” said Sznajder, who ended with touchdown runs of 37 and 90 yards on consecutive carries.

Picking off Lions quarterback Bobby Calmeyn three times while also blocking a punt, the Redwings’ defense and special teams chipped in to their sixth straight win.

Up just by a touchdown midway through the third quarter, Benet used a quick 10-point blitz to build a 24-7 lead. The Redwings overcame an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to negate an interception by Nick Surges.

Two plays later, Beneventi found Joe Weidenbach for a seven-yard score. Then, a 29-yard field goal from John Duvic 2:20 later boosted the Benet lead to 24-7.

“They’re a team that for four years has played us tough,” Surges said. “Coach [Brandon] New and a lot of their coaching staff — those guys, they teach their kids to play physical football.

“We knew that coming in. We went into halftime 14-7, but we knew the only team that was going to beat us out here was ourselves.”

After a missed 23-yard field goal attempt by Duvic and a pair of first-half turnovers, Benet went into halftime holding a tenuous 14-7 lead.

Senior Nick McTarnaghan’s one-yard touchdown run capped a 10-play, 62-yard scoring drive for the Redwings on their first possession for a 7-0 lead with 3:30 left in the first quarter.

After the Lions immediately countered with a seven-play, 80-yard scoring drive of their own, a drive concluded with a three-yard touchdown run by Brian Peters, the Redwings got the lead back shortly thereafter.

Beneventi’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Pat Peterson with just over eight minutes to play in the first half concluded the scoring for the game’s first 24 minutes as the Redwings stymied the Lions’ offense for the most part.

Beneventi connected with seven different receivers in completing 17 of 28 passes for 157 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

“We were all working together this whole game. We’re always going to have some mishaps in the game but persevere and work through it,” he said.

Calmeyn completed 23 of 46 passes for 243 yards and three interceptions for St. Viator (3-3, 1-3 East Suburban Catholic). Ben Dickey caught seven passes for 94 yards.

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