Article: Dominant run game anchors Lake Catholic shutout of Padua
Just when Padua thought they had Lake Catholic's offensive schemes figured out, they brought out the same weapon in a different form.
The Cougars led, 7-0, at halftime, much in thanks to the run game of Seniors Mark Baniewicz and John Stepec. But in the 2nd Half, it was Junior Bret Zimmerman who made the difference for Lake, as his two second half touchdowns helped propel his team to a 26-0 shutout of the Padua Bruins at Jerome T. Osborne Sr. Stadium.
Lake Catholic's 1st drive of the 2nd Half ended on a fumble just two plays in, but their next drive was one to remember. Zimmerman carried the ball seven times out of twelve total plays, amassing 52 yards and capped off the drive with a five yard touchdown to increase the lead to 14-0. On the very next Cougar drive, Zimmerman ran 34 yards for his second score of the night, giving Lake Catholic a commanding 20-0 lead over Padua.
"Our outside run and power run were really opening up holes and helping us get downfield," said Zimmerman.
The theme of the night for the Bruins seemed to be missed opportunities, as three times they were inside the Lake Catholic 30 yard line but were unable to score all three times. They also were unable to take advantage of two first half interceptions and a fumble recovery to begin the 2nd Half.
"We hurt ourselves in certain situations when the game was really tight still," said Padua Head Coach Tony Shuman. "They brought a lot of heat on defense and forced some small breakdowns on our part. On a 4th and 1 in a 7-0 game, we have to pick up that yard and advance. I'll challenge our guys every time."
In addition to Zimmerman's two touchdowns, Stepec recorded two of his own as well. A 23 yard run in the 1st Quarter opened up the scoring, while his 80 yard interception return late in the 4th Quarter was the dagger in the hearts of the Bruins.
"They play great defense," Shuman said of Lake Catholic. "They don't give up many points, and that's evident tonight. It's the 1st time we've been shutout. I don't think we've ever been shutout in my seven years here."
Stepec finished with 43 yards on the ground, while Baniewicz totalled 73 yards on his 14 carries. The victory helps the Cougars improve to 5-3 on the year and keeps their playoff hopes alive.
"This felt like a playoff game," said Zimmerman, who finished with 103 yards on ten carries and two touchdowns. "The rest of the season is going to. We have to win out to make it to the playoffs."
For Padua, Sophomore Brett James completed 10 of 26 passes for 110 yards and an interception. Senior Brian Kornowski caught three passes for 44 yards in addition to intercepting a pass. Junior CJ Yonek also picked off a Cougar pass, and caught three passes from James for 29 yards.
The Bruins fall to 2-6 on the season, 0-3 in the highly competitive North Coast League. Next week does not get any easier, as conference foe Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin rides their six game win streak into Padua Stadium.
"NDCL has been playing some really, really good football," said Shuman. "We've had the opportunity to see them live. They're on an absolute roll right now. They're a senior laden team with a good balance of running attack and passing attack, and they play good, physical defense.
"We have to get back to work, and bring out the same effort and same intensity. We have to convert on those close plays and score the football. Hopefully our defense comes back and plays the way they did tonight."
Kickoff is 7pm next Friday inside Padua Stadium.