It wasn’t just a punch in the mouth, it was a knockout.
Looking to make an early statement in their Class 3A first-round playoff game against West Frankfort, the Mater Dei Knights scored on their first four possessions en route to a lopsided 56-0 win Saturday.
Three of the touchdowns came via the arm of junior quarterback Reed Braundmeier, who did all his damage in the first half when he completed 10 of 13 throws for 231 yards and three touchdowns.
“When you’re playing a team like this, if you give them fuel, they’ll put it in the end zone,” said Braundmeier. “We let that happen last week against Waterloo (a 35-28 win). We didn’t want that to happen again.”
With the win, Mater Dei (9-1) advances into a second-round game at unbeaten Fairfield (10-0). The Mules defeated (Alton) Marquette in its first-round game. The date and time for the game will be announced Monday.
Mitchell Haake caught Braundmeier’s first two scoring passes, covering 46 and 40 yards, respectively.
His third touchdown throw came on a 54-yard screen pass to Zach Napovanice. That made the score 28-0 with 11:43 left in the second quarter.
Although limited by an ankle injury, Napovanice also provided the game’s first touchdown.
He capped a five-play, 34-yard drive with a 3-yard scoring run, putting the Knights up 7-0 just under five minutes into the game.
Knights coach Jim Stiebel said his team wanted to establish its ground game before letting Braudnmeier go to the air.
“We wanted to just grind the ball out, we didn’t need to throw it, we just wanted to get it in there, get the lead and put the pressure on them,” said Steibel.
Mater Dei’s final two touchdowns came from its defense on a 19-yard fumble return by Nolan Foppe and a 77-yard interception return from Dalton Markus.
The Knights limited West Frankfort to 35 yards of total offense in the first half. Mater Dei primarily went with its reserves in the second half but still scored twice. Cameron Haag scored on a 22-yard run and Kyle Schuchman caught a 34-yard scoring pass from Bryce Revermann.
West Frankfort ends its season 5-5.