Cadets rally in fourth quarter to upend Cougars
Benedictine scores 28 unanswered points in 5 minutes
The Collegiate and Benedictine football teams entered their Friday afternoon encounter on losing streaks: two games for the visiting Cadets and three for the Cougars.
The last time the teams met was in the VISAA Division I state championship game in 2016.
The Cougars won. Friday was the first time the teams have met in the regular season since 2015.
A stunning reversal of fortune in the fourth quarter propelled Benedictine to a 38-35 victory and kept the Cadets (3-2) in this year’s playoff picture.
The Cadets, trailing 27-10 going into the fourth quarter, scored 28 unanswered points in a fiveminute stretch to go ahead 38-27 with 4:10 left in the game.
“Andrew Puccinelli made some plays; Collegiate made some mistakes; we got some breaks. The past two weeks and three quarters we didn’t really get a whole lot of breaks; we weren’t making a whole lot of breaks for ourselves either, but we got a couple and took advantage of them,” Benedictine coach Greg Lilly said.
Puccinelli, a senior who shares quarterback duties with sophomore Jay Woolfolk, threw touchdown passes of 31 and 24 yards to Painter RichardsBaker and 32 yards to Dillon Tennyson in the fourth quarter. He finished the game with 12 completions on 19 attempts for 173 yards.
“It was really crazy,” Puccinelli said of the comeback.
“I wasn’t really thinking about anything at the moment, I was just trying to put some points on the board and get the team back into the game.
“Everyone was looking at me. I looked into the linemen’s eyes and told them we need this, and we all put it together.
“The routes were there, but it was also the O-linemen. They did a great job and gave me a bunch of time.”
Each starting quarterback — Woolfolk on the opening possession and Nigel Williams of Collegiate on the ensuing possession — threw interceptions. Thomas Lucy claimed Woolfolk’s.
Josh Shaw’s interception of Williams led to 27-yard field goal by Kyle Miller, and Stevie Walden’s 1-yard dive and Miller’s extra point put the Cadets up 10-0 at the 8:37 mark of the second quarter.
The span from there until 2:49 remained in the third quarter belonged to Collegiate (2-4). Williams (16 carries, 127 yards) darted and juked his way to touchdown runs of 1, 12 and 16 yards. Charles Armstrong scored from 3 yards out and Lew Rice kicked his third extra point to put the Cougars in front 27-10.
The Cougars led 13-10 at halftime. Benedictine ran one play that ended with a fumble (recovered by Austin King) in the third quarter.
“I think the assistant coaches did a good job of keeping the kids up on the sidelines, and I think our seniors did a good job. Cole Simon, Tre Akande, Charlie Garbett, D’Andre Tobias, those kids on the sidelines kept kids upbeat and into it and didn’t start pointing fingers when we were turning the ball over and things like that,” Lilly said.
The Cougars’ final touchdown came in near darkness on an 18-yard pass from Williams (1322-174-1) to K.J. Rodgers with :04 left in the game.
Collegiate’s Michael Brost tackles Benedictine’s Jay Woolfolk in the first half of Friday’s game at Collegiate. The Cougars won 38-35.