Football - Sun, Sep. 21, 2008
Bourbonnais, Ill. - In his first game back after a preseason injury sidelined him for the first two games of the season, Saint Xavier University senior quarterback Jeremy Zientek (Oak Lawn, Ill./Marist) made a statement. In fact, Zientek made seven statements with five passing and two rushing touchdowns on the night as SXU cruised to a 61-3 road victory over Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.) in Mid-States Football Association (MSFA) crossover action Saturday night in Bourbonnais, Ill. The Cougars (1-2 overall) racked up a school-record 654 yards of total offense in the big win, while Zientek tied a 10-year-old mark by throwing five touchdown passes. Aaron McGuire was the last Cougar quarterback to throw five TD passes in a game in a 40-36 loss to McKendree College (Ill.) on October 24, 1998. It is the most points scored by SXU since September 14, 2002, when the team put up a 79-6 win over Concordia University (Ill.).

There was no shortage of individual standouts for Saint Xavier Saturday both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Zientek finished Saturday's victory with 29 completions for 438 yards and five touchdown passes in addition to three rushes for 11 yards and two scores. His primary target was sophomore wide receiver Mike Maher (Plainfield, Ill./Providence Catholic) with nine catches for 171 yards and a touchdown, while sophomore wideout Xavier Torres (Chicago, Ill./Central Michigan/Lane Tech) also put together a nice night with six receptions for 80 yards and two scores. Senior running back Jason Banning (Wilmington, Ill./Northern Illinois/Wilmington) led the ground game for the Cougars with seven carries for 52 yards. Defensively, junior linebacker Mike Lally (Oak Lawn, Ill./St. Rita) posted a team-best 11 tackles (seven solos, four assists), including four tackles for losses for 11 yards. Sophomore linebacker Andy Gerritsen (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) had a big night as well with four tackles, a sack for 13 yards, and an interception return of 33 yards.

The Cougars wasted no time getting on the scoreboard when Zientek connected with senior tight end Andy Lietz (Blue Island, Ill./Marian Catholic) for an 18-yard touchdown pass with 12:26 left in the first quarter. ONU answered with a 33-yard field goal at the 7:22 mark of the opening quarter to make the score, 6-3. The rest of the game, however, was all Saint Xavier as the Cougars scored 54 unanswered points to claim the 61-3 victory. An 88-yard touchdown reception by Maher from Zientek gave SXU a 13-3 lead to close out the first quarter. Early in the second quarter, Zientek hooked up with Lietz again for a 10-yard touchdown pass to put the Cougars ahead, 19-3. Zientek then switched to his feet rushing for Saint Xavier's next two touchdowns on a nine-yard run and a one-yard keeper in the second quarter to give his team a 33-3 halftime lead.

Torres and Zientek provided all Saint Xavier's scoring in the third quarter with the pair connecting for a 16-yard touchdown pass as well as a 12-yard score to push the lead to 44 points at 47-3. In the fourth quarter, the Cougars got two more late touchdowns when freshman K.J. Franklin (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee) rushed for a 13-yard touchdown with 3:23 to play in regulation and red-shirt freshman Eric Sorensen (Darien, Ill./Hinsdale South) took a 29-yard pass from sophomore Donnie Selby (Alsip, Ill./Shepard) to the endzone with 1:32 remaining. As a unit, the SXU defensive allowed ONU just 132 yards of total offense in the game, including just 89 yards through the air. Saint Xavier (1-2 overall) heads to Deerfield, Ill., on Saturday, September 27, to take on Trinity International University (Ill.) for its final MSFA crossover game of the 2008 season. The game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start Leslie Frazier Field.