Bend, but don’t break.
The defenses of both Bartlett and host Notre Dame followed that age-old adage Friday night. However, in a game that saw no touchdowns, it was the unit that bent the least that emerged victorious.
The Hawks’ defense toughed up in the second half, not allowing the Dons to even cross midfield in the game’s final 24 minutes to lead Bartlett to a 3-0 road nonconference victory.
“Our defensive line did its job so they could allow the linebackers to make plays. The defensive backs did their job, so we all worked together as a team and got it done,” Bartlett linebacker Daniel Danek said. “It feels great knowing that our practice paid off.”
A constant drizzle left the football wet and difficult to grip, limiting the passing ability of each team. Combine that with the stout defenses, and it proved to be a difficult night offensively all around. The game’s only points came on a 21-yard field goal by Bartlett’s Alex Triantos with 38 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
The Hawks (1-1) were able to move the ball, thanks to their strong running game. Bartlett ran 46 times for 266 yards, led by junior running back Nolan Bernat, who gained 175 yards.
Coach Tom Meaney called it, “old-time basic Bartlett power football” and the strategy also allowed the team to control the clock. After halftime, the Hawks ran 34 plays, compared to only 20 by the Dons.
“We played really well, the O-line did a fantastic job opening some big holes,” Bernat said.
Notre Dame (1-1) had chances all game, but couldn’t execute when it needed. Penalties negated several big offensive plays, while a dropped pass deep down the field in the fourth quarter likely cost the team its best chance all game to put points on the scoreboard.
When the Dons did finally start to move the ball against the Bartlett defense, it was too little, too late, as quarterback Tyler Tsagalis ran out of time on the final drive.
The drive started at the Dons’ own 10-yard line with 1:18 remaining and just one timeout. Tsagalis took the team to its 38 before the clock hit zero. The 62 yards between the final line of scrimmage and the opposing end zone proved to be the closest Notre Dame got to the other side of the field the entire second half.
“We kind of made a number of mistakes,” Notre Dame coach Mike Hennessey said. “You can’t win games by putting up no points. They did a nice job in squeezing our running game and we just didn’t counter.”