Touchdowns and turnovers highlighted the Fenwick High School football team’s 42-21 victory against visiting Marmion on Saturday afternoon at Morton West Stadium. The teams combined for nine touchdowns and nine turnovers, but the Friars produced more positive plays on both sides of the ball.
“We did some things that we haven’t seen,” said Fenwick coach Gene Nudo. “We fumbled two exchanges, which I don’t think we’ve done all fall or last summer. We certainly have plenty to work on. Conditions were surprisingly harsh for this time of the year. For a while it seemed like turnover after turnover so it was hard to get things going for either team.
“I thought [Fenwick quarterback] Jake [Keller] settled in as the game went on. He is doing better, I think, as evidenced by his ability to hit Will Lattner in the flat and Michael O’Laughlin for a touchdown.”
The Cadets took their only lead of the game at 14-13 with 5:27 left till halftime on Nick Auriemma’s recovery of a fumble by Lattner in the end zone, followed by a successful two-point conversion on quarterback John Tate’s pass to Anthony Zolfo.
The Friars regained the momentum for good on their next series. Kick returner Conner Lillig ran 55 yards to the Marmion 25. After two more runs totaling 22 yards by Lillig, senior fullback Gavin Graves busted into the end zone on a 3-yard run and Keller threw a two-point conversion pass to tight end Jack Henige to put Fenwick up 21-14.
The elusive Lillig sparked Fenwick with two kickoff returns totaling 99 yards.
The Friars struck again when Keller tossed the ball to Graves who promptly threw a pass to Martin for an 80-yard touchdown, extending the lead to 27-14 at the 3:04 mark of the second quarter.
“Any trick play is a big-time team operation, so I just wanted to make sure I caught the ball and got it to Martin,” Graves said. “O’Laughlin did a great job blocking and Martin did a great job running with the ball after the catch.”
The play was Martin’s second TD of the game. He scored earlier on a 14-yard pass from Keller to give Fenwick a 7-0 lead.
The Friars added an eight-play, 57-yard scoring drive to open the second half. Keller threw a 2-yard TD pass to O’Laughlin and another pass to Lattner to convert the two-point attempt.
Although Marmion scored once more to pull to 35-21 midway through the third quarter, two interceptions by Fenwick cornerback Alex Pierson and another pick from promising 6-foot-2, 195-pound sophomore linebacker Ian Moran kept the Cadets in check.
“We’re very happy to have Ian,” Nudo said. “He’s the first member of his family to attend Fenwick. He’s had 31 relatives, including his brothers and cousins, go to St. Rita. We got him out of the St. Mary’s program in Riverside. He did a very nice job and he’s going to a real big kid for us.”
Martin, who finished with three receptions for 147 yards, scored his third TD on a 53-yard pass from Keller to make the score 42-21 with 1:25 left in the third quarter. Lattner had a season-high 145 yards on 21 carries, while Keller finished 6-for-12 passing with two touchdowns and an interception. Fenwick amassed 246 rushing yards on 45 carries and 194 receiving yards on seven catches.
“We’re more than just a Sherman Martin team,” Nudo said. “Sherman has been great but we’re getting contributions from several players. I’m very proud of all our kids.”
In addition to the Friars’ five interceptions, Aiden Maloney contributed a team-high 7.5 tackles and Brett Moorman had 6.5 tackles and a sack. Fenwick senior linebacker Brian Doyle contributed six tackles and Moran chipped in five tackles. Oak Parker Ellis Taylor added a sack.
“The last couple of weeks we have come together as a team,” Doyle said. “The last few weeks we have been counted out and pushed up against a wall. Our mentality has been us against the world.”
Fenwick (3-3, 1-1 CCL Green) takes on host St. Ignatius this Friday, Oct. 9 at 7:30 p.m. in a Catholic League crossover.