While Marist fans aren’t likely to soon forget graduated quarterback Ian Woodworth and the pinball-like offensive numbers he helped the RedHawks put up during his two varsity seasons, Jack Donegan gave them something new to remember Friday night.
For sure, visiting Brother Rice players won’t get Donegan out of their minds for a while. That’s what a six-touchdown passing night will do for a signal-caller’s reputation.
And the scoring throws were only part of the damage Marist’s senior QB inflicted upon the Crusaders in just his second varsity start. Donegan completed all but four of his 27 aerial attempts, a show of accuracy that led to 341 yards through the air.
With that assault serving as their linchpin, the RedHawks piled up points in a hurry. Twenty-eight of them in the opening stanza quickly turned this latest edition of a storied neighborhood rivalry ugly, and Marist went on to pocket a surprisingly lopsided 55-14 victory in Mount Greenwood.
“It’s one of those games that can [usually] go either way,” RedHawks coach Pat Dunne said. “I’m very happy with the way the guys came out and proud of how focused they were the entire game. They obviously understood the urgency they had to have.
“It was a long week of preparation, but the best thing that happened was playing this game after losing to St. Rita.”
That Week 1 loss to the Mustangs featured Donegan trying to rally Marist (1-1) in the waning moments. It offered only a glimpse of his capabilities, but Donegan’s emergence in the RedHawks’ second outing of the season didn’t shock his coach at all.
“We knew we could put him in at any time as a junior [and be OK],” Dunne said. “He really prepared well and kept learning, and he worked extremely hard in the offseason.
“He had a great day [here]. He threw the ball [well], made great reads and was a tremendous leader.”
And Donegan did that while involved in a highly emotional contest.
“[With] Jack’s attitude,” Dunne said, “I think he’s embraced that [starring] role and looked forward to this opportunity.”
Seven-and-a-half minutes into the game, Rice’s opportunity to reign supreme was already in serious jeopardy. Marist had scored twice by that time, using Donegan throws of 56 and 17 yards to Flynn Nagel to construct a 14-0 cushion.
Before the first period ended, Notre Dame University-bound Nic Weishar got into the act as he grabbed touchdown passes of 26 and 6 yards from Donegan. In between Weishar’s tallies, the Crusaders had seemingly gotten on the board, but Marcus Jones’ TD run was wiped out by a penalty.
Rice quarterback Alex Alarcon was intercepted right after that and the visitors’ threat unceremoniously died. Victor Ogbebor (six tackles), Jawill Aldridge (eight tackles, two pass breakups) and Isaiah Bickhem all stole Alarcon throws during the contest, with the latter returning his 87 yards in the second stanza to account for the home team’s fifth touchdown.
“Give Marist credit — they’re a talented team,” Crusaders coach Brian Badke said. “Those are tough guys to match up with for anybody.”
In particular, Badke acknowledged the impact Weishar and Nagel had on the proceedings. Both players added a third TD grab in the second quarter, and they combined for a total of 15 catches and 265 receiving yards.
While the duo appeared unstoppable, any scheme Badke employed against them lacked one major component: Chris Rozell. Rice’s all-area receiver and starting defensive back sat out the contest because of a strained ACL suffered in a Monday practice. He’ll be absent from the lineup anywhere from 2-to-4 weeks.
“He’s a big part of what we do, offensively and defensively, and him not playing definitely hurt,” Badke said. “Does it take 55 points off the board? No, but he’s a guy that can match up speed-wise with guys like Nagel and Weishar.
“Injuries are part of the game, but we’re very, very thin [in some spots]. It’s like losing two guys [with Rozell out].”
Jones’ 6-yard dash expunged the Crusaders’ shutout in the second period, but they were still staring up at an insurmountable 48-7 halftime deficit. A running clock was put into effect for the entire second half, but both squads managed to tack on one more score.
Luke Mueller (nine receptions, 129 yards) supplied Rice’s TD in the third quarter by catching a 5-yard toss from Alarcon, while Peter Andreotti raced 11 yards in the final stanza for the RedHawks’ lone rushing touchdown. Marist finished with over 440 total yards.
The RedHawks’ statistical leaders on defense were David Nelson and Marco Weidman, each of whom was credited with nine tackles. Tim Finucane made five stops, including two that resulted in lost yardage for the Crusaders.
Individual standouts for Rice on that same side of the ball included Robert Woods, Erich Lieser, Jimmy Opoka, Julian Davis and Dan Scanlon, all of whom registered four solo tackles and had at least one assist.
“From Week 1 to Week 2, you want to see that big improvement,” Badke said. “We didn’t see that obviously, so now we’ve got to see it from Week 2 to Week 3. This is a test for our character, but the kids should be motivated to play well.
“Our record’s 1-1 and we’re in the same situation as last year. There might be a chance we could play [Marist] again — how good would that be? But we’ve got to focus on what’s right in front of us.”
That would be Fenwick, which visits Joe Johnston Field for a Chicago Catholic League crossover game on Friday. The RedHawks, meanwhile, tangle with Nazareth Academy that same night in their East Suburban Catholic Conference opener, and Dunne doesn’t want his guys basking too long in the afterglow of success against the Crusaders.
“That game was over Friday night,” he said. “Our guys realize we have a lot of room to improve.”
Brother Rice 0 7 7 0 - 14
Marist 28 20 0 7 - 55
First downs 13 19
Yds. rushing 101 100
Yds. passing 137 341
Total yds. 238 441
Att./comp. 30-11 27-23
Fumbles/lost 0-0 1-1
Had intercepted 3 0
Penalties/yds. 7-75 6-50
Punts/avg. 5-38.0 0-0
MA — Flynn Nagel, 56-yd. pass from Jack Donegan (Cillian Hannon kick)
MA — Nagel, 17-yd. pass from Donegan (Hannon kick)
MA — Nic Weishar, 26-yd. pass from Donegan (Hannon kick)
MA — Weishar, 6-yd. pass from Donegan (Hannon kick)
BR — Marcus Jones, 6-yd. run (Brian Kane kick)
MA — Isaiah Bickhem, 87-yd. interception return (kick blocked)
MA — Nagel, 34-yd. pass from Donegan (Hannon kick)
MA — Weishar, 31-yd. pass from Donegan (Hannon kick)
BR — Luke Mueller, 5-yd. pass from Alex Alarcon (Kane kick)
MA — Peter Andreotti, 11-yd. run (Hannon kick)
Brother Rice Rushing: Jones 8-45, Smith 2-21, Alarcon 7-16, Desmond 2-15, Smesler 1-5, Mueller 1-(-1). Passing: Alarcon 30-11-137. Receiving: Mueller 9-129, Butler 1-5, Jones 1-3.
Marist Rushing: Andreotti 18-97, Aldridge 1-5, Schmidt 2-1, Proffit1-(-3). Passing: Donegan 27-23-341. Receiving: Weishar 10-151, Nagel 5-114, Neal 4-16, Ferguson 2-48, Andreotti 2-12.