RedHawks subdue Oswego in 8A quarters
The winds of change didn’t blow Marist off-course Saturday night.
A combination of stiff breezes and wet conditions in Mount Greenwood did force the RedHawks to go away from their preferred method of ball advancement. Evidence of that could be found in quarterback Jack Donegan’s season-low 14 pass attempts.
However, tailback Peter Andreotti was ready and able to pick up any offensive slack, and his exploits -- plus those of a suddenly robust defense -- were enough to keep Marist moving forward in the Class 8A playoffs. While visiting Oswego did fashion an early 7-all tie, the Panthers were kept off the scoreboard the remainder of the way.
Meanwhile, the RedHawks tallied twice more to register their second straight 21-7 win in the postseason. This latest victory carried Marist into the state semifinals for the first time since 2009, when it wound up playing for a championship.
To return to the state-title contest, the RedHawks must defeat Naperville Central on the road on Saturday. Those Redhawks punched their ticket to the semis with a 47-18 quarterfinal triumph over Neuqua Valley.
“They’re a great team,” Marist coach Pat Dunne said of Naperville Central. “They’re similar offensively to us [and] I’m not at all surprised to see them [at this point].”
Some people, though, might not have expected the local RedHawks (9-3) to be providing the opposition. But Marist has chosen the ideal moment to play its best ball.
That’s especially so on the prevention side, where the RedHawks have stepped up in a big way. While the negative weather elements hampered both Marist and Oswego, the latter also found itself mistake-prone -- the RedHawks forced a total of four turnovers, which continued a recent pattern of defensive excellence.
“Since the Benet [Academy] game [in Week 8], I think we’ve had about 20 turnovers [caused by our defense],” Dunne said. “The No. 1 big thing overall right now is the turnover ratio, which is a credit to everybody. [Receivers] Nic [Weishar] and Flynn [Nagel] have had a huge impact, but everybody on that defense has been flying around and playing to the whistle.
“This group is so close as a team. We’ve been practicing very good, and the leadership of our seniors and captains has been tremendous.”
Andreotti gave his defensive mates a lead to protect on Marist’s initial series of the night as he finished off a lengthy drive with a 2-yard scoring run. The senior tallied again before the conclusion of the opening stanza, doing so on a 6-yard dash that was preceded by a Weishar reception that brought the hosts down to Oswego’s 8-yard line.
The RedHawks began the later possession inside the Panthers’ 40, thanks in large part to a Ryan Tucker punt that had pinned the visitors down at their own 1. Tucker also kicked his team out of trouble during the third period despite having to punt into the wind, as he landed a ball at Oswego’s 26.
Prior to Tucker’s kick, Marist had successfully gambled on a fourth-and-1 play at its own 28.
“The wind was a big factor, and we were going into the wind,” Dunne said in explanation of why he didn’t opt to punt the ball back to the Panthers sooner.
“We got up to the line quick and got it. Our O-line got those pushes, and P.J. ran phenomenally and took care of the ball.
“This was a tremendous team win because we played well in all three areas. We played on a short field most of the game -- that was definitely a big thing -- [but] we believe in every guy on this team. Whatever we do, we’re going to do at a great level.”
The only damage Oswego could inflict on Marist came in the first quarter, between the RedHawks’ pair of TDs. The Panthers reached the end zone on a 30-yard Steven Frank-to-Trevor Matczak pass completion, but they ended the contest with fewer than 200 total yards.
Tim Finucane (six tackles, two sacks) recovered a pair of Oswego fumbles to spearhead the defensive effort, while Ryan Mishka and Jawill Aldridge (five tackles, two pass breakups) each swiped a Frank aerial in the fourth quarter. Also making their presences felt were Marco Weidman (12 tackles), Marcus Pitts (nine stops, one tackle for loss), David Nelson (nine tackles) and Adam Miller (seven stops, two tackles for loss).
Aldridge returned his interception for an apparent touchdown, but the points were expunged by a penalty. The pickoff still represented a deathblow of sorts to the Panthers, although Oswego was already reeling before that.
Marist’s six-plus-minute march that was capped by Andreotti’s third TD saw to that, as it created a double-digit deficit for the Panthers and left them with relatively little time to try to respond. Andreotti racked up 111 yards on 33 carries to highlight the RedHawks’ offensive work.
“I’m proud of our guys, but right now the biggest thing is staying focused on what we have to do [next],” Dunne said. “Oswego’s over; now, it’s on to Naperville Central. We’ve got to have a good week of practice and get better in everything we do.”
Oswego 7 0 0 0 - 7
Marist 14 0 0 7 - 21
First downs — 17
Yds. rushing 63 158
Yds. passing 130 88
Total yds. 193 246
Att./comp. 31-11 14-8
Fumbles lost 2 0
Had intercepted 2 0
Penalties/yds. — 6-65
Punts/avg. — 4-38.0
MA -- Peter Andreotti, 2-yd. run (Cillian Hannon kick)
OS -- Trevor Matczak, 30-yd. pass from Steven Frank (Daniel Bliss kick)
MA -- Andreotti, 6-yd. run (Hannon kick)
MA -- Andreotti, 3-yd. run (Hannon kick)
Marist Rushing: Andreotti 33-111, Donegan 9-27, Aldridge 7-20. Passing: Donegan 14-8-88. Receiving: Weishar 3-55, Nagel 3-15, Ferguson 1-17, Aldridge 1-1.