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Notre Dame 19
Sam Ainsworth showed his worth and Fenwick followed his lead against Notre Dame at Soldier Field on Sunday night. Listed as a 6-foot-4 junior tight end/linebacker, Ainsworth actually replaced injured quarterback Pat Hart (shoulder) and tossed two touchdown passes to rally the Friars from a 13-0 halftime deficit to a 13-13 tie.
However, with 4:13 left in the game Notre Dame scored on its final possession to pull out a 19-13 win in the nightcap of the 2010 Chicagoland Prep Kickoff Classic.
On their opening series, the Friars pieced together an impressive ball-controlled drive, moving 53 yards on 13 plays over five-and-a-half minutes. After calling a timeout, the Friars’ bid for a score was turned back when Jack Stibich was stuffed on a fourth-and-1 at the Dons’ 16-yard line.
“We didn’t take advantage of that drive,” Fenwick coach Joe Dicanio said. “We kind of out coached ourselves there. If I just let the rhythm go, we would have made that first down. That one’s on me.”
The Dons established their own offensive rhythm, scoring on their next two possessions to go up 13-0 at halftime. Running back Connor Thomas (14 carries, 62 yards) scored on a four-yard run at the 11:54 mark of the second quarter, and quarterback Tim Whalen added a three-yard weak-side rollout run into the end zone with 6:32 left until the intermission.
Despite losing their promising sophomore signal caller Hart to injury, the Friars played an inspired second half. Ainsworth (6-of-10, 146 yards, 2 TDs) connected with senior wideout Quinn Murphy on a 55-yard pass over the middle to pull Fenwick within 13-6 in the third quarter. The Friars PAT was blocked.
With Notre Dame on the move in the fourth quarter, Stibich picked off a Whalen pass and returned it into Notre Dame territory. The next play, Ainsworth tossed a 48-yard touchdown pass to a wide open John Rooney. Zach Laskiewicz’s PAT was good, tying the score at 13-all with 8:50 remaining.
Unfortunately for Fenwick, the play that counted the most was a 15-yard run by Notre Dame running back Nick Pieruccini that put the Dons up 19-13 with 1:18 left in the game. Pieruccini’s clutch run capped off a nine-play, 65-yard decisive scoring drive.
“We came out flat [in the first half],” said Murphy, who had three catches for 78 yards. “Ainsworth did a great job and our defense really stepped up in the second half. I’m glad so many people came out to support Fenwick, but I’m disappointed how the game ended.”
The Friars host Lindblom for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff at Morton Stadium this Saturday. “We need a win this week and we have to get healthy,” DiCanio said. “One guy we miss dearly is Mike Trucco.”
Trucco, a 6-2, 250-pound defensive end/tight end, is out with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament. His return this season is doubtful.
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