Benedictine sacks North Park to brighten Homecoming celebration
September 22, 2009
Dave Beyer, Sports Infomation Director
The Benedictine University football team used the theater of its 2009 Homecoming Game to notch its first win of the year with a 27-17 non-conference decision over North Park University at The Sports Complex. The win improves the Eagles’ overall record to 1-2 and gives the team a 12-11-1 lead in the all-time series history between the schools.
While the two teams were fairly close in total offense – the Eagles held a 335-to-258 advantage – it was the Eagles ability to sustain drives on the ground that proved to be the difference. BU rushed for 301 of its yards and only attempted 16 passes (completing five).
For the second time this season, the Eagles had a relative unknown quantity in the offensive backfield emerge with a break-out performance. In week No. 1 it was sophomore Derek Hitt, a converted quarterback, who came on in relief of injured starter Ryan Schwartz to gain 130 yards rushing. This time, with Hitt on the shelf as well, it was freshman John Alessi who torched the Vikings (1-2).
Alessi, from Tinley Park’s Andrew High School, carried a workhorse-like 34 times and gained 164 yards. Alessi had a long run of 20 yards, but averaged 4.8 yards per carry.
Since the Eagles opted for the run-oriented offense against NPU, senior quarterback Dave Klinger made the most of it by running for 78 yards on nine carries and scoring a pair of touchdowns. He also had 34 yards through the air.
Vikings signal-caller Shelby Wood completed 11-of-26 passes for 206 yards and was intercepted once. However, that one miscue proved costly as it was returned for a touchdown early in the fourth period.
Klinger got the Eagles on the board first with a four yard touchdown scamper to cap an 11-play, 43 yard drive with 11:41 left in the second stanza. The senior then had a hand in his team’s second score with a two-yard TD aerial to Kevin Jednachowski that finalized a six play, 69 yard drive with just :03 seconds showing on the clock until halftime. That, coupled with a pair of Robert Miller extra point kicks in the period, gave the Eagles a 14-0 advantage at the intermission.
The Vikings put 10 points on the board in the third period on a 34 yard field goal by Bryn Nottoli at the 11:44 mark and a 22 yard Wood to Chris Anton touchdown pass with 1:08 remaining. The extra point by Nottoli made it an uncomfortable 14-10 lead for BU.
Almost on cue, the Benedictine defense – which had played stellar for most of the day – rose to the occasion. In the early stages of the fourth quarter, Wood was picked off by safety Tim Shanahan at his own 37 and the Eagles’ defensive back made a beeline for the end zone to extend the host’s lead, 20-10 (after the failed PAT kick).
North Park went three-and-out on its next series, but Benedictine allowed the Vikings a glimmer of hope. On the first play from scrimmage following the NPU punt, Alessi fumbled at his own 27 and Vikings’ middle linebacker Ramon Lacey was there to pounce on the loose ball.
North Park needed just two plays before the Wood-Anton connection paid dividends again, this time on a 26 yard TD strike that, with the PAT, made it 20-17 with over 10 minutes remaining in the game.
With 8:32 left in the game, North Park had the ball on its own 12 yard line and the chance to march for the go-ahead score. On the second play of the series – facing a second-and-eight situation – NPU ran a reverse and then appeared to be looking to pitch the ball back to Wood for the pass instead. However, the lateral to Wood went astray and was recovered by BU senior Eddie Hill Jr. on the Viking four yard line.
Hill Jr. also had 2.5 sacks in the game. As a team, Benedictine had five sacks.
From that spot, the Eagles need just a four yard jaunt by Alessi and a one-yard scoring keeper by Klinger to capitalize on the North Park mistake. Miller’s extra point kick made it the 27-17 final.
All that remained was for the harassing Eagles’ defense to neutralize the Vikings last two possessions and the game went in Benedictine’s “win” column. Senior linebacker Devin Montgomery led the unit and had a bone-jarring sack on Wood on the guest’s final set of downs to punctuate the efforts.
Montgomery had six tackles, while fellow senior linebacker Alex Dewey had a game-high 12 tackles. Cornerback Matt McWilliams registered nine tackles and forced a fumble, while free safety Mike Hatfield had seven tackles.
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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.