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Nick McTarnaghan (37) of Benet Academy gets past Jason Watson (83) of Marian Catholic for a Redwing touchdown. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Playoff eligible for the first time since 2010 after posting its third shutout of the season last week, Benet returns home Friday night looking to make its Class 7A postseason trip official with a victory over Nazareth in the Naperville Sun’s Season Pass Spotlight Game on HighSchoolCube.com.
With interceptions by Pat Runger, Jack Schulte and Ryan Park, the Redwings’ defense kept St. Viator’s offense in check in recording a 17-0 shutout.
The Lions’ defense did somewhat the same to the Redwings’ offense; the 17 points the Redwings put up are the fewest they’ve scored in any of their five victories.
Against the Lions, Benet’s junior running back duo of Porter Ontko and Nick McTarnaghan combined for 91 yards on 28 carries.
Meanwhile, Redwings’ sophomore quarterback Jack Beneventi threw for 200 yards, completing nine-of-18 passes, and a 71-yard TD to Jack Toner last week at St. Viator.
“I think with us, we have to be more balanced. I think I probably tried to run the ball too much last week,” Benet coach Pat New said. “Every game, I want to be 50-50 and last game, I ran it 34 (times) and threw it 18. So I’m always trying to work it to be as close to 50-50 as I can be. I think it was a little skewed last week. Viator took away the run and when they take away the run, we gotta be able to throw the ball.”
The Roadrunners (3-3, 1-3 East Suburban Catholic) broke a three-game losing streak last week by getting a 21-6 win at Notre Dame, which saw their defense hold Dons’ junior running back Chris James to just 37 yards.
It’s that effort from the Roadrunners against a 1,000-yard rusher in James that has New’s eyes wide open as Benet (5-1, 2-1 East Suburban Catholic) looks to stay in the ESCC race with a pair of ranked teams in Marist and Joliet Catholic.
“I think the biggest thing is that they’re really a high-pressure team, you know,” he said of Nazareth’s defense. “They blitz a lot. Their defense is the equivalent of a full-court pressure basketball team, you know, because they bring a lot of pressure and then with their pressure, they try to create a lot of offensive (problems). They try to take you out of your game and just try to create big plays through their pressure.”
Offensively against Notre Dame, senior Aeneas White scored two short touchdowns on the ground and senior Dan Nagode hit fellow senior Zach Manuel for an 80-yard TD for the Roadrunners.
But the stalwart of Benet’s success so far in 2012 — its defense — should provide an opportunity for Benet to stay within striking distance and give the likes of Beneventi, Ontko, McTarnaghan and Jack Euritt a chance to win the game.
Nazareth shut out Benet, 17-0, to begin the 2011 season.