CHICAGO – St. Ignatius only needed 19 seconds to take control of its game against St. Patrick on Friday night.
With the game tied 14-14 in the third quarter, the Wolfpack regrouped after a bumpy first half and made critical plays when they needed to. St. Ignatius scored twice in 19 seconds in the third quarter on its way to a 37-20 win.
“We just came back, made some good adjustments,” St. Ignatius quarterback Jack Wanzung said. “We did awesome in the second half.”
Senior Michael Collins started the rally for St. Ignatius (1-0) when he read a play that he’d seen on tape the week prior. Once he recognized the play, he stepped in front of St. Patrick quarterback Ryan Birt’s throw and picked it off with 6:07 left in the first half at the Wolfpack 38.
St. Ignatius used its triple-option offense and drove 62 yard down the field, scoring on a 10-yard touchdown by Joseph Toney with 1:16 left in the third quarter.
“There wasn’t a doubt in our minds that we wouldn’t score on that drive,” Wanzung said.
The Wolfpack defense kept its intensity up when it forced a Shamrock fumble on the next play, taking the ball over on the St. Patrick 29. St. Ignatius broke from its running ways and Wanzung completed a 29-yard touchdown pass to Clement Carey to make it 27-14 with 57 seconds left in the third quarter.
Three plays later, Grant Biskner picked off another Birt pass, which led to a 26-yard field goal and a 30-14 lead with 8:58 left in the game.
“Energy on big plays is so contagious and that’s why I love it,” Collins said. “You make a play, the whole team will rally and want to make a play too.”
St. Ignatius rushed for 298 yards as a team, with Wanzung leading the way with 76 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. He also completed one of his three attempts for 29 yards.
Liam Hynes ran for 72 yards, Tony added 43 while William Barnett finished with 39.
The Wolfpack feature a lot of new faces this season and were happy to show some growth in the second half when faced with adversity.
“I’m super happy with the resiliency going into the second half,” Collins said. “I think we really bounced back and showed a lot of character. I think our defense is a really good position right now.”
St. Ignatius ran out to a 7-0 lead to start the game when Wanzung scored on a 52-yard run with 9:02 left in the first quarter. But the St. Patrick (0-1) defense created problems by stopping St. Ignatius on fourth down on its next possession and forcing two fumbles in the first half.
The Shamrocks made two field goals and tied the game 14-14 when Birt completed a 23-yard touchdown to Joseph Fico with 52 seconds left in the first half and then converted a 2-point conversion.
Birt threw for 73 yards and completed eight of his 17 passes and ran for 43 yards. Emi Arteaga scored in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard run.
While turnovers kept the Shamrocks in the game in the first half, turnovers put the game away for good in the second half.
“No matter the level of football, turnovers are a killer,” St. Patrick coach Luke Mertens said. “They gave us a couple extra possessions in the first half, we didn’t really didn’t do a whole lot with it, we gave them extra possessions in the second half and they capitalized on it. That’s the difference in the game.”
Both teams will have rivalry weeks in Week 2 with the Shamrocks playing Niles Notre Dame and the Wolfpack playing Fenwick. The Friars and Wolfpack built a strong rivalry over the last couple years during their time in the CCL/ESCC White and St. Ignatius is ready to build momentum after a strong opening win.
“It’s awesome,” Wanzung said. “We’re ready for Fenwick and we’re going to beat them.”