Yes, they remembered.
Nearly a year after yielding 62 points to the Nazareth Academy Roadrunners in a Week 8 loss in La Grange Park, many of the Marist defensive players returned to the scene of the grime on Friday and gave up just two touchdowns in a 44-14 win on the Roadrunners home field last Friday night sending a Nazareth Academy homecoming crowd unhappy into the cold on the first chilly Friday night of the fall season.
This battle of East Suburban Catholic League powers has been high-scoring in recent years with Marist winning 45-37 in 2013, Nazareth winning 37-21 in 2014 and Nazareth winning 62-45 last year.
The Redhawk defense played as if the 2015 game was still fresh in their memory.
“I tell you what. Our guys remember that,” said Redhawk head coach, Pat Dunne. “I know that for a fact. It’s something that the guys talked about all week. A lot of those guys that were on the field were out there last year.”
One of those Marist players was senior linebacker, Matt Finn.
“It feels good. Especially after the 62 points they put on us a year ago,” said Finn.
So, last year was in the back of your mind?
“A little bit,” he said with a grin.
The 6-1, 5-0 Redhawks remain at the top of the East Suburban Catholic League standings along with fellow conference unbeaten, Benet. The two teams square off this Friday night at Marist in the Redhawks final regular season home game of the year.
Finn attributed the impressive defensive display against defending Class 6A champion Nazareth to a total team effort and excellent preparation.
“We had a great week of practice,” he said. “Everyone played together as a unit. And when we play together as a unit, that’s when we become tough to beat.”
Playing together as a unit may be an understatement considering the fact that the Redhawks took the ball from the Roadrunners six times on the night.
Finn was one of six Redhawk defenders to record a turnover. His early fourth-quarter interception set up the Redhawks for their fifth touchdown of the night and a 37-14 lead with nine minutes to play in the game. It also put to rest any momentum Nazareth built after scoring two touchdowns in the third quarter.
“We came out a flat in the second half,” Finn said of the two Roadrunner scores. “But then we regrouped and got it together and pulled it out.”
Again, maybe another understatement by the humble senior.
After Roadrunner running back Cameron Weems scored to cut what was once a 23-0 halftime advantage to 30-14, the Redhawk defensive players didn’t just get it together, they put it into overdrive. Marist picked off Nazareth quarterback, Andrew Rouse Jr. on the next three possessions. The Redhawks picked off Rouse four times total on the night. Other Redhawks with picks were Bobby Gorman, Robert McKenzie and Robert Topps III.
“What the defense is doing is helping the entire team,” said Dunne. “They’re sitting there creating turnovers and creating great field position for the offense. All of those guys are doing a tremendous job and everyone is feeding off of what the defense is doing.”
Oh yeah, Marist brought plenty of offense as well.
Redhawk quarterback, Morgan Taylor (204 passing yards and 64 rushing yards) accounted for five of the six Marist touchdowns, three through the air and two on the ground.
His 26 yard dash to pay dirt midway through the first quarter got the Redhawks offense off and running to a 23-0 halftime lead.
Nazareth fell to 3-4 overall and is in jeopardy of missing the playoffs. The Roadrunners visit St. Viator Friday and host Marian Catholic Oct. 21.