By Mark Gregory
There is only one Tim Simon on the Notre Dame football team, but for Benet it looked as if he had clones as No. 10 was all over the field Friday night in the Dons’ 29-14 East Suburban Catholic Conference.
Simon accounted for 18 of Notre Dame’s points in the game, as he caught a touchdown pass, kicked three field goals on the night from 39, 20 and 23-yards and recorded a pair of extra points.
As a cornerback, Simon was also in on several tackles and coverages for the Dons’ defense.
After a pair of early turnovers, Benet opened the scoring when quarterback Jack Sznajder hit Karl Schmidt from 14 yards out.
However, 48 seconds later, Tsagalis and Simon connected on a 65-yard pitch and catch to tie the score. Notre Dame would go into the break ahead 17-7 after a 2-yard TD run by Jimmy Topping with 5 minutes, 20 seconds left in the second quarter and a Simon field goal.
“We could never really get it going there,” said Benet coach Pat New. “The offense cost the defense and then vice versa. We never really got into a rhythm tonight.
“It was a frustrating game in that respect. We just sputtered when we needed some first downs. Especially in the second quarter, that was critical for us. We got stuck in our own end and couldn’t get out. We felt like we had a lot tonight, we just didn’t get it going and didn’t execute.”
A 20-yard field goal from Simon on the Dons’ (3-0, 1-0 ESCC) opening drive of the second half gave Notre Dame the 20-17 lead.
Benet did not go away. The Redwings as quarterback Jack Sznajder connected with receivers Robert Bordignon and Will O’Grady to move the ball down the field.
The Redwings (2-1, 0-1) then answered the Benet score with a 9-yard TD scamper from Marty Dosen to pull within 20-14 with 10:48 left in the game.
However, just as they did earlier, the Dons bounced back with a score of their own as Topping took an inside handoff 73 yards to for the score.
“I thought we had some momentum there when it was 20-14, but we let up that big play,” New said.
Simon would add another field goal and Michael Valdez would ice the game in the closing seconds with an interception. He had a pair of picks on the night to go with a fumble recovery.
Topping rushed for 130 yards on 20 carries to pace the Notre Dame ground attack, while Tsagalis was 15-for-27 passing for 213 yards and the score to Simon.
Dosen led Benet with 20 carries for 68 yards, while Schmidt grabbed three passes for 65 yards from Sznajder, who is confident Benet will get things going.
“The offensive line played well tonight and if they do that, we will be fine,” he said. “We have to clean up some route running and I rushed some passes. We have a lot of talent and we will get it rolling. It’s a tough loss, but it’s the first conference game.
“We had rhythm early and lost it and we know when we have it, we can move the ball, we just can’t let that get us down. We need to have that confidence every game especially in this conference. We know we can move the ball and we rely on our defense a lot because we have a solid core back there.”
Benet will travel to St. Patrick Saturday for an 11 a.m. kick off trying to right the ESCC ship.
“In this conference, everyone is a tough opponent and to get five wins and get in the playoffs is awfully tough when every opponent is tough,” New said.