The No. 2 Benedictine Ravens faced a little bit more adversity than expected in their 47-11 blowout win over William Penn at Larry Wilcox Stadium Saturday.
Late in the third quarter, the Ravens found themselves up only 19-11 after the Statesmen converted a two-point conversion on a 63-yard touchdown drive.
Benedictine responded with an eleven play 75-yard drive capped off by senior running back Marquis Stewart with a one-yard touchdown run to make the score 26-11 as the third quarter ended.
The Ravens dominated the fourth quarter by shutting out William Penn and scoring three touchdowns.
“I think our guys woke up there quickly after once having a comfortable lead,” coach Larry Wilcox said. “They responded on both defense and offense.”
The Benedictine running game had another banner day after its ten touchdown performance against Graceland last week with 309-yards and six touchdowns.
Stewart led the team with 22 carries for 176-yards and three touchdowns.
Fellow senior running back Charlie Nihart had 10 carries for 108-yards and two scores.
Stewart said the Raven running back tandem is formidable no matter who is in the game behind probably the best offensive unit up front in the Heart of America Conference.
“We return most of our offensive line and we can just run it down people’s throat and that’s what we did,” Stewart said. “When Charlie comes in no beat is lost.”
Wilcox said the stellar running game continues to improve even after being one of the best in the nation last season with two thousand-yard rushers.
“It’s becoming more and more competent,” Wilcox said. “It was strong last year and we feel like it will continue to be this year.”
The air attack of the Ravens hasn’t soared to the heights it did in the previous season early on with zero touchdown passes through two games.
Senior quarterback Shaefer Schuetz talked about the benefits of having a prolific rushing attack while dealing with the struggles of the passing game.
“It’s really nice to know that we kind of have that to fall back on when we in the pass game aren’t doing the job that we should be doing,” Schuetz said.
Schuetz also takes most of the responsibility for some of the disconnect through the air.
“Some of the timing stuff is my fault more than anything,” Schuetz said. “The guys are giving me the time I need up front but I’ve just missed some throws that I typically make this year. We’ll get it figured out and hopefully start scoring in the air.”
Wilcox said a number of the starting wide receivers have dealt with injuries so developing chemistry has been an issue.
“They really haven’t worked as a unit very much the last two weeks,” Wilcox said. “Just got to work through those injuries first and we have some great athletes there and a guy who will get them the ball.”
Benedictine will next travel two hours to take on Peru State College Saturday at 1 p.m.
The Bobcats are also an option offensive team like William Penn.
Wilcox said the Ravens’ defense feels comfortable defending against the option.
“It gives our defense a little bit of consistency in their practices,” Wilcox said. “I think our defense does have a lot of confidence against the option but it present a unique set of challenges.”
The Peru State defense enters the game ranked fifth in the heart on defense and is the more formidable side of the ball right now according to Wilcox.
“I think defense is probably the strength of their team right now,” Wilcox said. “They’ve gotten themselves into trouble with some turnovers on offense and poor play on special teams.”