NEW LENOX — The big players showed up big for Providence Catholic in the second half Friday night.
Quarterback Lucas Proudfoot, the junior, with a pair of touchdown runs, and key passes to help set up those scores.
Senior captain Brayden Garrigan, with three receptions, one for a touchdown in the first quarter and two more grabs for big yardage when Proudfoot really needed him.
The exploits of that duo, and a bit of good fortune, enabled the Celtics to turn back Fenwick, 21-20, on Matt Sneffner Field before a crowd alternately boisterous and nervous.
They were loud when the Celtics (2-1) had a measure of control. Three times Providence scored touchdowns, and each time, Fenwick (2-1) answered within two series.
The final time came the luck. Fenwick pulled within a point on Kaden Cobb’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Elin Pugh with 9:26 remaining, but kicker Iain Ramage slipped on the FieldTurf when planting for the extra point, and the ball scuttled into the line.
“This poor turf,” Providence coach Mark Coglianese said with a shake of the head. “I like it right now.”
The Celtics had a big rush on the play and might have blocked the kick anyway. More critically, they were able to hold Fenwick at bay on the Friars’ final two series, first with Garrigan’s critical pick of Cobb on Fenwick’s penultimate drive, then with enough harassment of Cobb on the final series that the Friars were forced to attempt a 56-yard field goal on fourth down. Iain Ramage planted perfectly this time, but the kick fell harmlessly short and to the left.
Proudfoot, while only 5-of-11 for 74 yards, found his receivers at critical times, and scored on 5- and 1-yard runs in the second half. He was the least worried man on the field when Fenwick threatened twice more.
“I don’t get nervous. I’m ready to score again,” Proudfoot said. “We punched them in the mouth first.”
“He hit on some key slant routes when he needed two and was smart enough to pull the ball in on those key run,” Coglianese said.
Ethan Litynski has 79 yards on 23 carries, but his 62-yard kickoff return to set up Providence’s successful drive to start the second half was vital.
“That big return got us momentum and got us the lead,” Coglianese said.
What Coglianese would like to know now is just how good his squad is. He knows part of the answer will be provided when Providence meets Joliet Catholic Academy on Friday.
“Next week will tell a lot,” Coglainese said.
“We’re ready to win, to find a way to win,” Proudfoot said.
The Celtics’ defense came to the fore in the opening half in sacking Cobb twice, plus an interception by Logan Schultz that stopped the Friars’ second drive on the first play.
Most of the first half was played between the 30-yard lines, but each squad had a moment of offensive brilliance.
Providence’s came first in the form of a 26-yard collaboration between Proudfoot and Garrigan, who grabbed the ball at the 5-yard line and rambled in with 5:38 left in the first quarter.
“That dude does not drop anything,” Proudfoot said.
The Friars answered with a 15-play drive that consumed 6:04, needed a pair of third-down conversions plus a fourth-down lunge by Danny Kent, and finished with sophomore Luke D’Alise’s 1-yard plunge with 9:20 left in the half. Fenwick gained 80 of their 132 first-half yards on that excursion