Join us in congratulating our Football Knights for reaching the IHSA Class 3A State Quarterfinals!
Following a 10-game winning streak, the Knights concluded their season with an 11-1 record after a 21-19 loss to Quincy Notre Dame.
We thank the players, Coach Jim Stiebel, the assistant coaches, and the parents for their dedication!
article below credited to Bruce Hixon for Breese Journal
As much as Mater Dei Knights football coach Jim Stiebel wanted one more opportunity for his team that never came, it is the plays he and his squad would like to have back that ultimately led to their downfall in Saturday’s 21-19 loss to the visiting Quincy Notre Dame Raiders in the Class 3A state quarterfinals.
That list is a lengthy one. The Knights were unable to overcome four turnovers, which included a pair of pick 6s, and two missed point after attempts. Eight penalties for 65 yards did not help either.
“You can go across the board. It’s really tough to win when you give up two touchdowns on pick 6s. We lost by two and missed two point after attempts. We had some missed tackles and penalties that hurt us. It was a number of things. When stuff like that happens you just feel like it’s not your day,” said Stiebel. “Yet we were right there. Our kids fought all the way back. We just needed one more play, but it took all we had to get to that position.”
Mater Dei racked up 483 yards of offense when it defeated the Raiders 43-20 back in week six, but this time QND (9-3) limited the Knights to only 267 yards. Quarterback Reed Braundmeier burned the Raiders’ defense for 305 yards through the air in the first meeting, but was held to just 154 the second time around. Zach Napovanice rushed for 112 yards in that first encounter and was held to 89 in the rematch, but 49 of those came on one play.
“Quincy Notre Dame had a good game plan. I thought their kids played a lot harder than they did the first time we played and we didn’t execute the things we needed to do,” said Stiebel. “Looking back I wish we had run the ball more earlier in the game than what we did, but we fell behind and felt the urgency to throw the ball probably more than what we needed.”
The Knights will not forget QND’s Zac Becker anytime soon. Becker gave the Raiders (9-3) a lead they would not relinquish seven minutes into the contest when he intercepted a pass by Braundmeier and brought it back 35 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead for the visitors. Later Becker would snuff out Mater Dei’s last opportunity with a fumble recovery.
Mater Dei responded with a solid 10-play, 54-yard drive that included a key 24-yard completion from Braundmeier to Mitchell Haake on a third-and-6 that kept the possession alive. Two plays later Nolan Foppe scored on a 2-yard run through the middle of the Raiders’ defense, but Grant Cox’s PAT kick was blocked and kept QND in front 7-6 with 1:02 left in the first quarter.
QND added to its slim advantage on its ensuing possession with a 12-play, 65-yard drive that consumed nearly seven minutes. Thirty-three of those yards came when the Raiders had a third-and-6 from their own 47 as Ike Wiley connected with Johnny Ohnemus for 18 yards and the Knights were called for a personal foul penalty after the play. Seven plays later Wiley scored on a 1-yard keeper on fourth-and-goal. Ethan Beroiza’s second of his three PAT kicks boosted the Raiders’ lead to 14-6 with 6:44 left in the first half.
Both teams missed opportunities to change that score before the second period ended. The Knights reached the QND 20 where they were stopped on downs as a fourth down pass attempt by Braundmeier fell incomplete with 3:40 left. The Raiders used their final first half possession to reach the Mater Dei 12, but Beroiza was wide left on a 29-yard field goal attempt as time expired.
Mater Dei’s comeback hopes suffered a big hit on its initial series of the second half as the Raiders posted their second pick six of the game. This time it was Ohnemus who intercepted a pass by Braundmeier and returned it for a touchdown that extended QND’s lead to 21-6 with 7:29 remaining in the third quarter.
Sixty-nine of Mater Dei’s 154 yards passing came on the ensuing possession as the Knights cut into that deficit. Braundmeier hit Zach Napovanice for an 11-yard gain followed by a 39-yard completion from Braundmeier to Ben Kassen that bounced off a QND defender.
Those completions led to a 7-yard TD pass from Braundmeier to Tyler Jasper that sliced the Raiders’ lead to 21-12 with 5:11 left in the third quarter. It stayed a 9-point lead for the Raiders when QND’s Grant Hyer intercepted Braundmeier’s pass on a 2-point conversion attempt.
The Knights’ defense, which allowed only one first half TD, followed with a three-and-out on QND’s ensuing possession, but the Raiders maintained possession when Lake Bergman recovered a muffed punt. While the Raiders were able to move the ball to the Mater Dei 15, Brayden Buehne prevented any additional damage when he recovered a fumble by QND’s Ben Kasparie.
Mater Dei was unable to take advantage of that takeaway, but it was able to cash in a second takeaway early in the fourth quarter. This time it was Cameron Kreke who recovered a fumble after Wiley completed a short toss to Carter Thomas at the Mater Dei 43.
Zach Napovanice covered those 57 yards during two of the next three plays, an 8-yard gain followed by a 49-yard run down the left sideline. After having come away empty on their two earlier point after attempts, Cox split the uprights after the third TD to cut QND’s lead to 21-19 with 8:30 left.
The Raiders missed a chance to put the game away when they drove the Mater Dei five only to be turned away when Jack Marth was stopped for a short gain on fourth down with five minutes left.
Mater Dei’s last possession showed some early promise after runs of 13 yards by Zach Napovanice and 12 yards by Braundmeier. Two plays later Braundmeier was hit, the ball came loose and Becker fell on it for his second takeaway of the game.
QND outgained Mater Dei 278-267. Mater Dei had 113 yards rushing as Zach Napovanice led the ground game with 100 yards on 14 carries. Foppe had 15 yards on six attempts and a TD.
Braundmeier completed 12 of 20 passes for 154 yards and a TD. Haake had four receptions for 58 yards. Kassen had three catches for 53 yards. Jasper had two receptions for 18 yards and a TD. Zach Napovanice also had two catches for 18 yards. Jayce Napovanice had one reception for seven yards.
Kassen led the defense with 13 tackles followed by eight by Foppe and seven by Buehne.
While Quincy Notre Dame reached the state semifinal round for the first time in 15 years and a home date with Williamsville, Mater Dei had a 10-game winning streak snapped and finished play with a 10-2 record.
“We had a heck of a run to reel off those 10-straight wins after we lost to Effingham the first game of the season. I’m proud of our seniors as well as the rest of our team and the coaching staff,” said Stiebel.