The anticipation was palpable during pre-game festivities as Richwoods and Notre Dame set to open the 2013 prep football season at Peoria Stadium Friday night. This was maybe somewhat more true for the Irish faithful as they hoped to beat Richwoods for the first time since 2001. Although the temperature was sweltering, it could not dampen the enthusiasm for the players and fans of either team.
The game lived up to expectations as it was a hard fought and tough backyard brawl for these two rivals. The defenses controlled things, for the most part, all evening. In fact, neither offense mustered a first down in the first quarter. The Irish had the edge on special teams, however, as Andy Shadid followed a 30 yard punt return in the first stanza with a nice reverse pitch to Demarco Washington on a punt reception at 10:04 of the second which Washington took 50 yards to paydirt. Notre Dame then converted for two points on yet another shifty play, the old “swinging gate”, to go up 8-0.
Richwoods, which had unsuccessfully tried to get the passing game going early, then got back to basics with the ground game midway through the second quarter, led in large part by Daejgon Love who churned out some tough yardage. The Irish led 8-0 at half, but the Knights were showing signs of being able to move the ball consistently on the ground.
Richwoods kept it up in the second half leading to a beautiful 45 yard field goal by senior Justin Cole making the score 8-3 at the 6:51 mark of the third. After the teams traded jabs, the Knights found themselves with a fourth and six situation at the Irish 35 yard line. Max Berres threw a strike to Sean Flaherty at the five and they were in business. Kiontre O’Neal then took it up the middle twice to grind it into the end zone and give the Knights a 9-8 advantage with 10:59 left in the game. Richwoods went for two points unsuccessfully which would turn out to be the difference in the contest.
Notre Dame, which had been stifled by the Richwoods defense all night long, then got on the back of Andy Shadid and Jake Hurst for what be the game winning drive. Both made big plays and the Irish were on the Knights seven yard line with time winding down. The Knights defense held tough, but a 23 yard field goal sailed through the upright with 37 seconds left to go to dash their hopes in this one. The final was 11-9 in favor of Notre Dame.
Richwoods need not hang their heads after this game as the Irish are a fine team with great playmakers. Richwoods’ defense was impressive. The line play on both sides of the ball was good. Eliminating some opening game types of mistakes and some fine tuning in the passing game should get the Knights to where they want to be as they now look forward to a big home opener next week against Rock Island.