Calmly, Benet junior quarterback Nick Mankowski took the snap from center with 1:01 left in the game at St.Viator trailing 7-3.
Mankowski, returning from a high left ankle sprain, stayed in the pocket and hit wide receiver Drew Russo on a crossing pattern in the Lions’ end zone with a 6-yard scoring pass with 56 seconds remaining. Combined with Kyle Del Santos’ extra point kick, the Redwings went on to a emotional 10-7 win in the East Suburban Catholic over the host Lions at Forest View.
“I had the butterflies when coach (offensive coordinator Tim Cedarblad) said we would pass on fourth down, said Mankowski. “I was excited at the same time. I thought the play would work. We ran the same play earlier in the game and I missed on the throw. We expected a man defense on the play. I wanted the play to be a memory. Everyone on that play contributed to that touchdown
The offensive line anchored by Drew Bala, Quinn McCracken, Jeff Schmittgens, Matt Smego, and Pat Flavin gave the protection that Mankowski needed.
The win lifts the Redwings into a probable playoff spot with their 5-3 record and 2-3 conference record. St.Viator, which travels to Marian Catholic next Friday, needs a win after they dropped to 4-4 and 2-4 in the conference.
Mankowski helped march the Redwings down the field from their 34-yard line by hitting 4 of 5 passes on the drive for a net of 50 yards.
A key 14-yard reception by Connor Nelligan (5 catches, 49 yards) and a timely block by E.J Howe helped Nelligan make his way to the St.Viator 6.
Three running plays and two timely tackles by Viator’s Justin Johnson found Benet still at the 6.
“We weren’t going to run a fourth time, said Benet coach Pat New. “I had faith in Tim’s decision to call the pass play. Both teams gave their all out there tonight. Both teams were battling for a playoff spot. St. Viator really played good defense in shutting Howe down
Howe finished with 107 yards on 27 carries.
St.Viator linebacker Mike Krzoska had a big game with 7 tackles.
The Lions, though, were victims of a few bad breaks when touchdown catches by Ore Arogundade were called back on penalties in the second and third quarters.
Lions quarterback Conrad Korab (13-for-30, 1 int., 158 yards) gave St.Viator the lead a 7-3 with 5:44 left in the third quarter. Korab found Arogundade, who had outmanuvered his defender, for a 72-yard pass play. The score was set up by Johnson’s interception at the Benet 4.
“Tonight they were just better than us, said St. Viator coach Chris Kirkpatrick. “Benet played really great defense, but we did too. Now we have to look at this next week of practice as our playoff week.
Benet had taken a 3-0 with 4:21 left in the first quarter on Del Santos’ 20-yard field goal.
“This was a very see-saw game, with a lot of emotion, said New. “Viator showed up and played hard defense.