Heading into their Catholic League (Blue) showdown against Brother Rice, Fenwick head coach Joe DiCanio knew that his players would have to control their emotions. Unfortunately, DiCanio and the Friars primarily felt frustration, disbelief and anger, exacerbated by a few controversial officiating calls, in the aftermath of their 19-17 loss Friday night at Brother Rice.
While DiCanio credited Brother Rice’s competitiveness and resiliency, he could not help but dwell on two questionable pass interference penalties called against Fenwick in the final dramatic stages of the game.
“We can’t play against 15 people anymore,” DiCanio said, alluding to the poor officiating. “I don’t want to sound like a crybaby, but Mr. Hellmer [Bill Hellmer, Catholic League officials assignments chairperson) should be ashamed of himself with the officials he gives preference to the Southside schools. It’s mind boggling to me. We left too many points out there in the first half, but when it came down to crunch time those two pass interference calls killed us.”
With the Friars up 17-16, Brother Rice regained possession of the ball with 2:33 left in the game. The Crusaders marched down the field aided by a pass interference call against Fenwick on a third and 25 for Rice. A few plays later, Blake Boshnak booted a 22-yard field goal with 22 seconds left that ended up the game-winner for the Crusaders.
In the waning seconds, Fenwick moved the ball down the field, but a last gasp 52-yard field goal attempt by Pat Mulhern fell short.
“I was trying to put it up at the right goal post and let the wind drag it back in,” Mulhern said. “I just didn’t catch it all.”
The highly anticipated clash between the two Catholic League powers lived up to its billing. The Friars and Crusaders, ranked No. 8 and No. 18 respectively, in last week’s Chicago Sun-Times, battled to a scoreless tie at the end of the first quarter.
Fenwick scored first on an 11-play, 60-yard drive capped off on a 2-yard touchdown run by Dan Mega (14 carries, 99 yards) at the 6:15 mark of the second quarter.
The Crusaders (4-1, 2-1 Catholic Blue) cut the deficit to 7-3 on a 32-yard field goal by Boshnak right before halftime. Quarterback Jeff Ingersoll threw for 134 yards and Quintus Johnson rushed for 54 yards to pace the Crusaders offensively.
Brother Rice seized control when cornerback Neil Sullivan picked off a Brien Rooney pass and raced into the end zone from 23 yards out to give the Crusaders a 10-7 lead with 6:32 left in the third.
The Friars answered when Colin Tobin returned the ensuing kick-off 78 yards. Three plays later, Mulhern nailed a 26-yard field goal to knot the game at 10-10.
Fenwick seemed poised to spoil the Crusaders’ Homecoming when Mega broke several tackles and ran 69 yards for a touchdown to put the Friars back up 17-10 with 8:07 left in the game.
“We moved the ball well, but we had a few bad breaks,” said Mega, who had two rushing touchdowns. “It’s a tough loss.”
Nick Caldicott and Austin Gordon, who both had an interception, led the Friars’ defense, which yielded only one touchdown against a strong Brother Rice attack. Dan Walsh, Mike Downey, Pat Doyle, Ethan Ross and Jack Finan also played well defensively, while Newman Delaney (5 catches, 42 yards) served as a favorite target for Rooney (111 passing yards).
The Friars (4-1, 1-1 Catholic Blue) must regroup quickly with their Homecoming game against De La Salle Saturday (1:30 p.m.) at Morton Stadium in Berwyn.