An overmatched Fenwick football squad introduced itself to the Blue Division of the Catholic League by giving powerhouse St. Rita a battle on Friday night. But in the end, St. Rita's Ryan Donahue saved his team from a shocking upset by breaking a 24-24 tie on a 44-yard field goal with 1:25 to play in the game. A safety by St. Rita with a minute to play made the final 29-24.
If Fenwick had any butterflies playing with the big boys there was no sign of it in the opening drive. The Friars marched 70 yards on just five plays when on fourth down Dan Walsh hit Pat Doyle on a 1-yard touchdown pass. The extra point was no good, but the touchdown marked the first points any team had scored against St. Rita (3-0, 1-0) this season.
Rita answered with the resilient rushing of Darien Hood, who scampered 246 yards on 28 carries and finished with two touchdowns on the day. The Mustangs eventually jumped to a 17-6 lead before Brien Rooney replaced the injured Dan Walsh (right shoulder) and found Eric Bradley for a touchdown, putting the Friars within three at halftime.
But the Mustangs' rushing force continued to claw away at Fenwick's outmanned defense. St. Rita racked up over 400 yards on the ground for the night and took a 24-14 lead early in the third.
Late in the third, Rooney again found Bradley for the duo's second touchdown combination for the night. The Friars had a chance to tie it up also in the third but Matt Mulhern's 32-yard field goal attempt fell short. Mulhern made up for the miss in the final quarter by sending a shot through the uprights from 29 yards out, tying the score at 24-24.
But St. Rita rolled down the field on the next possession and then strategically stalled the clock before the Iowa-bound Donahue hit the game-winner.
Rooney was sacked by linebacker Matt Murphy in Fenwick's end zone to end the game.
Walsh started at quarterback for the Friars but suffered a separated shoulder while playing linebacker in the second quarter. Fenwick head coach Joe DiCanio expects his two-way player to be out a week.
"Dan is a tough kid. He came into the game with a sore shoulder and he was cleared to play. It's just unfortunate what happened," said DiCanio. "We'll have to hide his uniform and his shoulder pads this week so he can heal up. He's that kind of a tough kid."
DiCanio said playing a Blue Division team was everything he thought it would be.
"It was a numbers game out there. We had guys playing both ways, and Rita didn't need to have guys playing both ways. But our guys played their hearts out and that's all I can ask of them. They never gave up and they never got intimidated."
The Friars were on the winning side of a game-winning field goal the week prior when Mulhern's 18-yard field goal with no time on the clock secured a 10-7 win over Gordon Tech.
This week Fenwick hosts Hales Franciscan at Oak Park Stadium on Sunday (1:30 p.m.).