Article: Elusive complete game comes at perfect moment as Padua shuts out Benedictine
For weeks, Padua Head Coach Tony Shuman has spoke about how his team needed to play a full, or complete game. A nagging problem had been playing well in one half and not so well in the other, or simply just not finishing.
On a wet, muddy, chilly night inside Padua Stadium in the final game of the 2012 season, his Bruins finally did what he wanted them to.
The Bruins dominated North Coast League rival Benedictine, 33-0, finishing out the season with a bittersweet victory.
"All three sides of the ball supported each other very well," said Shuman. "It was that elusive complete game."
Padua had begun its season at 2-2, before dropping a tough one to Holy Name in triple overtime which was the start of a five game losing streak. The win in the final game of the season, and the final game of many of the seniors' football careers was the perfect way to snap that skid.
"This is something you'll remember for your whole life," said Senior Linebacker Nathan Kaszei. "There's nothing you can forget about it. This is the greatest feeling I've ever had."
After Benedictine started the game with a 3-and-out with much thanks to the sloppy field conditions, Padua hopped on the board with a 65 yard touchdown pass from Sophomore Brett James to Senior Brian Kornowski for a 6-0 lead. When Bruin Senior Devon Greer picked up a fumble near the end of the quarter, the offense began to go to work, with Senior Will Hughes leading the way.
Hughes carried the ball four times for 32 yards on a seven play, 50 yard drive that was capped when James tossed a five yard touchdown pass to Senior Mike Roder. The Bengals once again were forced to punt by the Padua defense, and Hughes once again carried the offense in a drive he completed with a two yard score to give Padua a 20-0 lead late in the 1st half.
"Run game was great tonight," said Hughes, who ran for 125 yards on the night. "Our offensive linemen gave us chances for big plays. Our running backs were just doing what we do."
After the Bruin defense made a stop on 4th down, James completed a twelve yard pass to Kornowski which set up a four yard touchdown pass to Junior Michael Stryffeler. At halftime, Padua led 27-0, and the Bengals had nearly -40 yards total offense.
"Our d-line was unstoppable," said Kaszei. "They made every play they needed to. It's their game on that one, I only contributed a little on my part."
Hughes was at the core of a 14 play Bruin drive that lasted nearly eight minutes in the 3rd Quarter - and Padua did not even score. Hughes along with Roder and Senior Nick Mog continually pounded the ball up the middle and the Bengals had no answer for it.
An interception by Kaszei late in the 3rd quarter set up a two yard score by Hughes less than a minute into the 4th, putting Padua up 33-0. Roder amassed 46 yards on the ground in the 4th, killing the clock and wrapping up the victory.
"What a way to finish," said Shuman, in his 7th year coaching his alma mater. "We've had some close losses and some that have tested our character throughout the year. Throughout this week and the past weeks, as crazy as it sounds because we've had some tough, lopsided losses, I thought our team was getting better.
"Tonight was all about the kids, and all about execution," Shuman added following the victory. "To have our eighty strong out here representing, whether they're on the field or the sidelines, it was a full team victory. We had all the seniors out there to finish it. The team will say and the seniors will say that it was a team win, but the seniors really, really stepped up their game. It's a special, lifetime memory to win your last game on your home field. With it being a shutout too, that's awesome.
The Bengals finished with -30 yards total offense, thanks to the resilient Padua defense and the muddy field. James was 7 of 15 passing for the Bruins, accounting for 114 yards and three touchdowns. Roder ended the game with 76 yards on 14 carries in addition to the touchdown grab. Greer along with Seniors Jason Woodman, Anthony Bobak, and Brandon Sforzo were all key factors on defense for Padua.
The season is over for the Padua Bruins, as they finish with a 3-7 overall record, and a 1-4 mark in the highly competitive North Coast League. They graduate 25 seniors, but return many juniors who were key players and a talented core of sophomores.
"Ending the season is always hard, lose or win," said Hughes. "It's a lot better this way, I have to say."