For Fenwick head football coach Gene Nudo, Friday night’s homecoming game against Marmion Academy was bittersweet. He was honored before kickoff for achieving 100 wins as a high school coach, but the ceremony came after his mother-in-law was laid to rest earlier in the day.
“It was great having my family [on the field before the game],” said Nudo after the Friars defeated Marmion 31-26. “To have them all out here was kind of melancholy for me. We got the 100th win three weeks ago, and I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever get to 101. Our kids played hard and inspired tonight.”
Fenwick (3-3, 1-1 in the CCL/ESCC White) started the game fumbling the ball on Marmion’s opening kickoff. The Cadets recovered on the Friars’ 22-yard line but couldn’t take advantage and turned the ball over on downs.
The Friars made Marmion (4-2, 1-1 in the CCL/ESCC White) pay for the missed opportunity as Kaden Cobb (10-for-23, 156 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT) launched a 53-yard scoring strike to Max Reese (4 receptions, 111 yards, 2 TD) to give Fenwick a 7-0 lead. Jacque Walls followed with a 1-yard TD run to raise the advantage to 14-0.
Marmion would get back into the game on the Friars’ next possession as Jack Scales (3 INT) intercepted Cobb’s pass and returned it for a 20-yard touchdown, cutting the deficit to 14-7 after the first quarter.
Late in the first half, Fenwick marched 67 yards to reestablish a 14-point lead when Cobb found Reese for a 3-yard TD toss. This put Fenwick up 21-7 heading into halftime.
The Friars squandered an opportunity to extend their lead early in the third quarter. After Declan Donnelly recovered a fumble on the Marmion 15, Cobb threw his second pick of the night — again to Scales — in the end zone. A personal foul penalty on the Friars gave the Cadets the ball on their 35, and Padraig Fitzgerald’s 37-yard TD pass to Dane Pardridge capped the 65-yard scoring drive. However, the PAT by Anthony Kuceba hit the left upright, leaving the score 21-13 Fenwick with 8:32 left in the third.
A 42-yard punt by Bryan Dowd put the Cadets in a vulnerable position on the one-yard line. On third down, Quin Wieties strip-sacked Fitzgerald, and Kevin Frazier recovered the fumble in the end zone for a touchdown. This put Fenwick up 28-13 heading into the fourth quarter.
“Quin and Kevin [Frazier] are beasts,” said Fenwick LB Bryce Legan. “They’re playing like seniors, and that’s great for the program’s future. Games are won and lost in the trenches, and it’s huge for us to have those guys in the interior.”
After Fitzgerald (15-for-29, 194 yards, 3 TD) connected with Pardridge (seven receptions, 83 yards) for another touchdown pass (25 yards) early in the fourth quarter, the Friars went on a 6-minute, 14-play drive that ended with Dowd’s 27-yard field goal to make the score 31-19 with 2:23 remaining in the contest.
The Cadets would score another TD but couldn’t recover the ensuing onside kick. The Friars then ran out the clock.
“We played a good team tonight. They never gave up, and that’s a trademark of Dan Thorpe’s teams,” said Nudo of the Marmion coach, who is retiring after the season. “He’s a good football coach, and his kids play hard for him.”
Walls finished the evening with 89 rushing yards on 16 carries, and Danny Kent added 57 yards on 11 carries. Defensively, Danny Farnan led the Friars with 12 tackles (11 unassisted). Legan added 6 tackles, and Donnelly 5, along with both a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. In addition, Wieties, Patrick Feldmeier, and William O’Brien each recorded sacks.
If there’s one area the Friars will hone over the next few weeks, it’s discipline. Fenwick committed numerous penalties against Marmion — including a few personal fouls. Afterwards both Nudo and Legan expressed concern.
“I feel that’s a direct reflection on me when guys start taking bad penalties,” said Nudo. “In my mind, that has to stop, or we’ve got to get different guys on the field who will play the right way.”
“We need to work on our discipline; right now we look like an undisciplined team,” said Legan. “But we know we can fix it, and I think if you take away the penalties, the scoreboard’s different.”
Fenwick will face St. Patrick on Friday, Oct. 11 in the regular-season home finale. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Triton College.