Another trip to the Chicago area resulted in a second loss for the O’Fallon Panthers, who fell 41-3 to the Benet Academy Redwings on Friday night.
Benet’s offense struggled for much of the first half against O’Fallon (0-2). But Benet’s young but talented defense took up the slack, even tallying the first nine points of the game all by itself.
The Redwings went ahead 2-0 in the first quarter when safety Alec McEachern tackled O’Fallon tailback Kentrail Moran in the Panthers’ end zone for a safety.
McEachern found himself in the same end zone less than two minutes later when linebacker Ryan Liszka stripped the ball from Moran and McEachern recovered the fumble for a defensive touchdown and a 9-0 lead.
Benet (2-0) limited O’Fallon to 63 first-half yards and two first downs, which gave its offense time to begin clicking in the second and third quarters.
Running back Marty Dosen broke loose for a 35-yard run, and quarterback Jack Sznajder rumbled for 44 yards on the next play from scrimmage to push Benet in front 16-0.
"This win was good for us because we have a loaded conference, and every win is important for getting into the playoffs again," Dosen said of the victory over the Panthers, who traveled north for a second week in a row after driving five hours to face Hinsdale Central on Aug. 28. "We didn’t play a perfect game, even though the score may not show it, but we just wore them down with our defense and stuck with it on offense after a slow start."
After trading field goals to end the half, the Redwings busted the game open in the third quarter behind a 1-yard TD run from Charlie Weidenbach for a 27-3 edge. Dosen crossed the goal line on a 1-yard run for a 34-3 lead, and backup quarterback Mike Dunn’s 64-yard touchdown pass to wideout C.J. Birck with 7 minutes remaining closed out the scoring.
O’Fallon’s young offense, which features a sophomore quarterback and four other sophomore starters, was particularly plagued by turnovers, committing three fumbles and an interception. "Any time you lose the turnover battle against a good team is tough to overcome," Panthers coach Brandon Joggerst said.
The Panthers (0-2) will try to rebound when they tackle Belleville West in their Southwestern Conference opener next Friday . The game marks the team’s third consecutive road game to start the season, including its back-to-back visits to West suburban schools. O’Fallon lost 41-14 to Hinsdale Central Aug. 28.
"This is the first time we’ve started with (three away games)," Joggerst said, "and it’s hopefully the last time."