By Luke Stanczyk
The Benedictine Eagles football team took to the run game on Saturday, carrying the ball over 40 times for over 200 yards en route to a 20-14 victory over Northern Athletics Conference foe Concordia-Wisconsin.
BenU’s backs were the story of the game, as junior running back John Borsellino added to his NAC-leading rushing yards total by rushing for 170 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries. Also, fellow junior John Alessi ran for 74 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.
Alessi got the scoring started for the Eagles from the outset. Just two plays after a forced fumble by junior Mike Theriault that was recovered by junior Justin Kassner, Alessi broke a long touchdown run of 64 yards.
As a player who is mainly known inside the Eagles huddle as the guy “who does a lot of the dirty work” according to Senior quarterback Matt Brown, getting him more involved running the football was a big asset on Saturday.
“It allows us to have another threat on the field,” Brown said. “When we have both Johnny and Alessi running the ball well, it becomes very difficult for a defense to stop them both.”
The Eagles would not score again until the third quarter, and it came off of another Falcons turnover. After Theriault intercepted a pass, Borsellino ran for a 15 yard touchdown on the next play to put BenU up 13-0.
“It was definitely a big play,” said Brown of Theriault’s interception. “Mike’s pick gave us the ball in great field position, and it only took Johnny one play to get into the endzone.”
Later in the quarter, Borsellino would add a 52 yard touchdown run to put the nail in the coffin of CUW.
All in all, the Eagles totaled 229 rushing yards on 46 carries.
“I think the O-line was able to be physical with them and they did a good job opening some holes for Johnny and Alessi,” Brown explained. “CUW did a good job making it difficult on us to throw the ball today, and usually when the defense takes away one aspect of the offense like they did with the passing game, the running game can excel more”
Through the air, Brown was 12 for 21 for128 yards. His leading receiver was junior Chris Schultz, catching four passes for 47 yards.
Defensively, the Eagles were able to sack the Falcons four times, as juniors Kassner, Ben Lockton and Edwin Davila and sophomore Rich Rategan all recorded one sack a piece. On top of Theriault forcing two turnovers, Davila forced a fumble and freshman defensive back Ben Carpenter added an interception.
In total, the defense held CUW to just 242 yards.
“The defense was great today shutting down the CUW offense,” Brown added. “They created turnovers and gave us good field position all day long, and they were able to step up and control the game when our offense was struggling a little bit”
With the win, the Eagles extended their streak for consecutive wins against NAC opponents to thirteen. They are now 4-2 overall, 3-0 in conference, and are tied with Lakeland for first in the NAC.
“I think it’s crucial for us to come out ready to play every game and just take games one at a time,” Brown said. “We need to stay focused and keep things simple and play our game”
The Eagles travel to Maranatha next Saturday to take on the Crusaders at 1 p.m.