This past week in college football 7 teams from the top 25 lost. That is the more than any other week this year. It was the kind of week you would rather not be favored in.
- Georgia got shocked by the Missouri Tigers
- Texas turned the UT vs OU game into the Burnt Orange River Rivalry not the Red River Rivalry
- Chicago’s BIG Ten team Northwestern got trounced by the fierce run attack of Wisconsin
- In Happy Valley the Nittany Lions beat the undefeated Maize and Blue Wolverines of Michigan
- Utah shocked the world by stunning the number 5 ranked Stanford Cardinal by 6 points.
By the way, I was four for four in my predictions last week. I guess there was just an upset vibe in the air that Saturday, but it didn’t just happen in college…
On Saturday, October 12th the number 6th team ranked in the state of Illinois, Benet Academy, traveled to LaGrange Park to take on the Nazareth Roadrunners. The previous week NAZ had knocked off undefeated Notre Dame which has the explosive Illinois halfback, Chris James. Most people thought it was very unlikely that they would upset ESCC power house Benet. What were the odds? Jack Beneventi and his Redwings were on a role with 6-0 record and 3-0 conference record. Their conference rivals, the Roadrunners from Nazareth, were playing with a chip on their shoulders. This was one of the best football games I have ever been to in my life. It was a thriller, trust me.
Benet took a quick 3-0 lead on their first drive. The Roadrunners responded with a field goal of their own. Shortly after that NAZ stole the lead and was up 17-3 because of a blocked punt that was taken to the 5 yard line and an interception by Jack Dolan which he powered through to the 1 yard line. Both of those huge plays ended up with Ivory Kelly-Martin running it in for a Roadrunner touch down. The Benet fans and players didn’t know what hit them. At half the score was Bennet 6 Nazareth 17, but the Redwings superstar QB Jack Beneventi was determined to have a 2nd half comeback.
The Redwings came storming out of the gates in the 3rd quarter and as expected roared back to a 18-17 lead over the Road Runners. At this point everyone was probably thinking that this was when Benet would run away with. I mean there is no way Nazareth could win right? WRONG! NAZ’s defense owned the fourth quarter. Beneventi and his ESCC top offense was trapped deep in its own end most of the period. The suffocating defense of NAZ dominated the game. In the middle of the 4th quarter Carson Bartels the younger brother of starting QB Jake Bartels threw a beautiful touchdown pass to his fellow Sophomore Julian Love for a 25-18 Naz lead. On the ensuing Benet possession Beneventi was picked off by Dex Kelly-Martin. This led to the game sealing field goal by Nazareth’s Michael Hillsmen. NAZ led 28-18 with 1:30 left in the game. The Redwings were stopped on 4th down and all NAZ had to do was knee the ball. As the clock clicked zero the roaring crowed stormed the field. The Nazareth seniors were on the ground with tears of joy. It was truly a special game and a signature win for head coach Tim Racki.
The Nazareth defense was a strong force in securing this win. I think this is the best defense in the ESCC conference which is loaded with high powered offenses and D1 talent. Nazareth may very well be the best defense in the state of Illinois. Why are they are so good?
Because they never give you any breathing room. The receivers are always covered tightly and they can also stop the run. The last two weeks they played Chris James the best running back in the state and Jack Beneventi the best quarterback in the state. Both had zero touchdowns and fewer than 100 yards. This NAZ defense is fast and relentless. They play with speed, heart and soul. Key players on the Naz defense are Robbie Brindley, Jack Dolan, Doug DiFusco, Kevin Jackson, Dex Martin-Kelly, Danny Bakovich, Julian Love and the big men in the trenches, Michael Stec, Dimitri Joe and Will Colmery. They and their defensive teammates are creating a season to remember and possibly a deep playoff run. Keep your eye on the Nazareth Academy Roadrunners.