Football finds the going tough in opener
September 6, 2008
Dave Beyer, Sports Information Director
Benedictine University's football team had a rough time of it in the 2008 season opener, as host Elmhurst College cruised to a 35-14 win. The Eagles (0-1) have not won a season opener since 1999.
It was the Bluejays ninth-consecutive win over Benedictine. EC also now leads the overall series with BU, 29-16.
The traditionally-strong Eagles' rushing attack was held in check by Elmhurst. Benedictine would muster just 66 yards on the ground, 45 of which came from junior Ryan Schwartz on 12 carries. Sophomore fullback Eric Ritter had 35 yards and his team's lone rushing touchdown.
Freshman quarterback Derek Hitt - making his collegiate debut - was eight-for-20 passing, good for 130 yards and one touchdown. Hitt was sacked three times and threw one interception.
Elmhurst had a large advantage in total offense, out-distancing the Eagles in yardage, 462 to 196. The bulk of those yards came from the Bluejays' combo of quarterback Chris Kudyba and receiver Matt D'Angelo, as the duo connected 13 times for 256 yards and all five EC touchdowns in the game.
On the defensive side of the ball, junior linebacker Alex Dewey led the team with eight tackles, while junior lineman Steve Donovan added seven stops. Sophomore defensive back Mike Hatfield had six tackles, all solo. Dewey and Donovan each also had six solo tackles among their totals.
The two teams battled to a scoreless draw until Elmhurst broke the scoring drought early in the second period at the 13:49 mark. Nearing the three minute mark until halftime, the Bluejays had upped their advantage to 21-0.
After a 21 yard kickoff return by John Borsellino started matters from their own 38 yard line, the Eagles would embark on their only scoring drive of the first half.
A key scramble by Hitt to pick up a first down on a third-and-five play kept the series alive. That was followed by and 11-yard completion to John Green, a pass to Schwartz that lost a yard and an incomplete aerial to sophomore Brandin Austin.
A delay of game penalty against Elmhurst moved the ball to the Elmhurst 46 yard line. Hitt made a tremendous fake handoff that fooled the Bluejays secondary. Hitt rolled to his right and found a wide open Austin upfield for the TD strike. Brian Goff's extra point kick made it 21-7 at the half.
After being pushed around for 284 first half yards, Benedictine's defense stiffened to open the third period and forced a three-and-out by the 'Jays. The Eagles subsequently drove to the Elmhurst 22, but missed a 40 yard field goal attempt.
EC took advantage and came right back at the Eagles in an effort to seize the game's momentum back. A nine play, 78 yard scoring drive upped the Elmhurst lead to 28-7, as it stood through the remainder of the third stanza.
Benedictine started its second scoring drive of the day, thanks to a heads-up defensive play on a punt return by the Bluejays. On the return, Benedictine's J.T. Zimmerman knocked the ball loose and Johnny Lemons was "Johnny-on-the-spot" to recover the loose ball at the Elmhurst 34.
On a fourth-and-five play, Hitt found Borsellino with a 27 yard toss that brought the ball to the two yard line. From there, Ritter pounded it in off right tackle for the score. The PAT made it 28-14 with 13:45 left to play.
The Bluejays responded with their final tally of the afternoon on the ensuing drive to make it 35-14. But with over 11 minutes left to play, the game still had some fireworks left.
Borsellino took Elmhurst's kickoff at his own three yard line and brought the ball through traffic on the right side, made a cut near midfield and galloped all the way down to the Bluejays' five yard line before being tackled from behind after a 92-yard return.
However, two sacks and two penalties moved the ball in the wrong direction. The drive stalled at the 25 yard line, effectively taking away any hopes by the Eagles for a comeback.
Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois, and Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls nearly 10,000 students in 56 undergraduate and 19 graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the sixth consecutive year in 2016. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (hlcommission.org). For more information, contact (630) 829-6300, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ben.edu.