By Randy Speer, The Circuit.
Benedictine’s final game became nearly a summary of its entire season. A two-faced offense and stout defense were encapsulated in the Ravens’ 34-25 win against Peru State on Saturday at Larry Wilcox Stadium in Atchison, Kansas.
“We are very happy for our players to end on a winning note, beating first of all Grand View last week and Peru State, and just doing the things that we needed to do to have a successful season,” Benedictine coach Larry Wilcox said.
The Ravens defense forced seven Bobcat turnovers in total, recovering six of them.
Coming off of last weekend’s near shutout of then-No. 6 Grand View, the Ravens looked porous early, as the Bobcats went 53 yards in five plays to take at 7-0 lead.
The offense, helmed by Jacob Koester, responded immediately, as the senior quarterback found senior Christian Haack on a 52-yard post route for the score.
Haack leaves the program with the most receptions and receiving yards in program history, while also second on the all-time list in touchdown receptions.
Benedictine took the lead as senior Cameron Hajok scored on a big-man touchdown, scooping up a fumble and rumbling 42 yards for the touchdown.
The defense forced another fumble on the following Peru State possession. Six plays later, Koester found the end zone again, this time diving in from 1 yard out to put the Ravens up 20-7 with 6 minutes, 40 seconds left in the first quarter.
The other face of the Ravens offense reared its head after it took the 20-7 lead.
Koester fumbled once, then threw an interception on the final two Raven drives of the half. Both turnovers turned into points for the Bobcats.
The fumble resulted in a 9-yard touchdown run by James Sluka for Peru State, while the interception turned into a 11-play, 73-yard drive and 20-yard field goal as the half expired, leaving Benedictine with a 20-16 lead heading into the locker room.
Coming out of the break, senior Kyle Harmyk took over at the helm of the offense, as Koester was benched for the remainder of the game.
A Steve Williams interception on the third drive of the second half set the Ravens up at the Benedictine 21-yard line.
From there, Harmyk orchestrated a 12-play drive, which he capped off with a 3-yard pass to Ejay Johnson to put the Ravens up 27-16.
“I just felt like we were a little larthargic, a little mechanical in the first half, not enough energy, we weren’t finishing the plays like we needed to,” Wilcox said. “We got into them a little bit at halftime and they got after it a little better in the second half.”
Peru State cut the lead to 27-19 to start the fourth quarter as Gabe Hoins knocked through a 36-yard attempt.
Benedictine (7-4, 3-2 Heart North) answered right back, as Johnson bounced in from 14 yards out after being set up by a 46-yard reception by David Claypool, to take a 34-19 lead.
The Bobcats added their final touchdown of the night with 5:21 remaining, as Sean Van Briesen punched it in from 4 yards out for the score. The two-point conversion try failed, leaving Peru State trailing 34-25.
Peru State (5-6, 1-4) had new life breathed into it when, in an effort to pick up a few extra yards, it fumbled the ball at the Benedictine 39-yard line.
“We hadn’t been doing as well in the turnover area, but over the last two weeks, we have been going after the football,” Wilcox said.
The Ravens defense snatched their final fumble recovery, pounced on by Brandon Eddy, his second of the game.