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Defense keys St. Rita victory over Fenwick

St. Rita's Ben Threloff scores touchdown after recovering blocked Fenwick punt first quarter their Catholic League semifinal Friday November 9

St. Rita's Ben Threloff scores a touchdown after recovering a blocked a Fenwick punt in the first quarter of their Catholic League semifinal Friday November 9, 2011 in Chicago. Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 12, 2012 6:38AM



St. Rita is still alive in the Catholic League playoffs after downing visiting Fenwick 24-14 Friday at Doyle Stadium, thanks more to its defense than anything else.

St. Rita (7-5) advances to the Catholic League championship and will play the winner of Saturday’s Hales Franciscan-Brother Rice semifinal next week. The winner of next week’s game will play in the Prep Bowl on Nov. 23.

The star of St. Rita’s defense was defensive back Lamar Dawson, who picked off Fenwick quarterback Gino Cavalieri three times. The three interceptions were a season high for one game and gave Dawson seven interceptions for the season.

“The first one I was just watching the quarterback,” Dawson said. “The second one I just read the quarterback and I was just watching what he was doing, but the last one was a little tougher. It was a little farther back and I had to watch to see where (Cavalieri) was going.”

Dawson was surprised at Cavalieri’s strategy for most of the game, especially after the first interception.

“I was kind of shocked that he kept throwing it to my side,” Dawson said. “After I picked him off two times, I thought he wasn’t going to throw it my way anymore. But I wanted him to think that the receiver was open.”

Cavalieri was picked off four times, with Mustangs defensive back Ryan Price adding the final interception with 1:37 remaining in the game and Fenwick driving from the St. Rita 40.

The St. Rita defense also got out of a jam early in the fourth quarter after the Mustangs fumbled the ball away.

The Friars, trailing 24-7, got the ball on the St. Rita nine with about 8:30 to play in the game. Fenwick was able to move the ball to the St. Rita two, but on fourth-and-goal Price batted down a Cavalieri pass in the end zone.

“I think our defense has played well at times and some of the times we’ve failed to get things done, but tonight we did a great job,” St. Rita coach Todd Kuska said. “Lamar had an excellent game and they put good pressure on the quarterback.”

The Mustangs defense scored when outside linebacker Ben Threloff picked up a blocked punt and ran it in from four yards out, giving St. Rita a 14-7 lead with 22.6 seconds to play in the first quarter.

Fenwick (8-4) took a 7-0 lead when Robert Spillane scored on a 19-yard run with 2:05 to play in the first quarter.

St. Rita owned the rest of the first half. The Mustangs scored 21 unanswered points, highlighted by quarterback John Kelley’s touchdown passes of 15 yards to Julian Crum and 3 yards to Tom McCormick.

Fenwick scored its second touchdown on Spillane’s 11-yard run with 2:31 to play in the game.



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