Tommy Mister has a star actor’s sense of timing. He knows how to heighten the drama and then deliver the knockout.

The St. Rita star senior quarterback overcame a sluggish start to throw a touchdown pass and run for another score as the Mustangs utilized big plays on special teams in gliding past Simeon 35-20 in the Prep Bowl on Friday at Soldier Field.

Mister earned his team’s most valuable player honor as St. Rita (12-2) won its seventh Prep Bowl in the program’s history and raised its career mark to 7-1.

Playing in its third consecutive Prep Bowl, the defending champion Wolverines (9-5) fell to 1-7 all-time.

On its first six plays from scrimmage, the Mustangs were held to negative-1 yard.

“In probably 50 percent of our games this year, we started out slowly and then our offensive line starts to create time and with our running game we had the play-action going,” Mister said. “Our coaches did a great job with making adjustments to get our passing game going.”

Mister completed 4-of-9 passes for 119 yards and also gained 27 yards rushing on 10 attempts.

His 23-yard strike to wideout Julian Crum set up the Mustangs’ first touchdown. Mister carried the ball on four consecutive plays, with his 6-yard keeper on fourth-and-1 producing the game’s first score on the opening play of the second quarter.

Christian Plummer, his team’s MVP, delivered a 40-yard strike to Matthew Flemming to set up the Wolverines’ equalizer, a 19-yard dart from Plummer to Jordan Jackson.

St. Rita seized control late in the second quarter. Defensive back Daniel Gleaves blocked a punt and scooped up the ball for a 20-yard touchdown return with less than a minute to play in the first half.

“Getting that big block right at the end of the quarter was huge, especially with (Simeon) getting the ball to start the second half,” St. Rita coach Todd Kuska said. “We started a little tight and then we loosened up.”

Mister broke the game open after the Mustangs’ defense forced a Simeon three-and-out. He escaped the pocket and threw a perfect ball that wide receiver Brandon Gaston caught in stride and raced down the left sideline for a 56-yard touchdown and a 21-7 advantage.

“That’s a play we put in just this week,” Mister said. “We knew Simeon likes to go man, but we knew their linebackers couldn’t run with our slot receiver. The line gave me plenty of time to throw, I was able to freeze the linebacker and Brandon went down the sidelines.”

Simeon’s big-strike capability stunned the Mustangs when Flemming got deep on the next play from scrimmage. Flemming bobbled Plummer’s pass before snaring it in stride and running untouched for an 80-yard touchdown.

St. Rita’s special teams struck again as Lamar Dawson returned the ensuing kickoff 51 yards. After Mister’s passing softened up the Wolverines’ defense, St. Rita blasted at the Simeon interior behind running back D.J. Miles.

Miles (18 carries, 101 yards) gained 72 of his rushing yards on 11 carries after the intermission. He scored the Mustangs’ final two touchdowns on runs of two and 15 yards as St. Rita wore down the Simeon defense in the second half.

“In the second half we just started to jell,” Miles said. “The line did a great job, and I was just reading my alignments there.”

Miles was particularly effective improvising, blasting into the middle of the line before cutting to the outside.

Plummer finished 9-of-20 for 225 yards and three touchdowns. He closed out the scoring with a 53-yard touchdown pass to Simeon star running back Darnell Cockrell in the closing seconds.

Both of St. Rita’s losses came against top-ranked Mount Carmel, including 20-15 in the second round of the Class 7A state playoffs.

“We knew the winner was going to play for a state title and the loser was going to play in the Prep Bowl,” Mister said. “We just ran with the hand that was dealt us.”