With the weather changing, baseball heading into the playoffs, and school starting again, it can only mean one thing; high school football is back. The only difference this year than most others, it started off in a big way with a showdown of two top 5 teams at Soldier Field. St. Rita took on the Marist Redhawks on Saturday and the game did not disappoint the almost 2,000 fans in attendance. After many costly penalties, big plays, and great individual efforts, Marist was able to take the neighborhood rivalry game 35-25. Marist was able to control the clock in the first half with an aggressive pass attack that went 31-51 on the day. While this strategy did not yield big plays, it produced chunks of yardage at time and kept the St. Rita defense on the field. While Marist controlled much of the first half, St. Rita was able to capitalize on great defensive efforts and saw themselves only trailing 14-10 at the half.
St. Rita came out in the second half, making adjustments on both sides of the ball that seemed to swing the momentum their way. Tim Lombard would score the first of his two touchdowns to start the half and gave the Mustangs their first lead of the game 17-14. The game would go back and forth and it seemed the momentum was shifting to the St. Rita side when a Mustang defender intercepted a throw from the Marist quarterback deep in their own territory. However, a roughing the quarterback penalty on St. Rita gave the ball and momentum back to Marist and they would eventually take a 21-17 lead.
This was one of many costly penalties on the Mustangs that continued to give Marist second chances. At one stretch in the game, St. Rita was penalized on 5 consecutive plays, an aspect that turned out to be a game changer. “The penalties killed us,’’ Rita coach Todd Kuska said. “We have a bunch of young guys and this is not the end of the world.’’
Marist would tack on another touchdown with a QB run but the Mustangs would not go away. Tim Lombard would score his second touchdown of the day and a great stop on defense allowed the Mustangs to have the ball down 28-25. After an impressive drive, Nick Goldsmith lined up for 45 yard field goal attempt to tie the game but the kick would fall just yards short. Marist would score one more touchdown late in the game to secure the 35-25 victory.
The Mustang football team travels to Danville, IL to take on Danville High School this Friday at 7:00pm