Football - Sat, Sep. 27, 2008
Deerfield, Ill. - Behind 28 unanswered first-quarter points, the No. 25 ranked Saint Xavier University football team took a big lead early and pulled away for a commanding 56-0 road win over Trinity International University (Ill.) in Mid-States Football Association (MSFA) crossover action Saturday afternoon at Leslie Frazier Field in Deerfield, Ill. The Cougar defense posted its first shutout since last year's opener when SXU beat Lambuth University (Tenn.), 44-0, on September 1, 2007, at L.L. Fonville Field in Jackson, Tenn. Since the return of senior quarterback Jeremy Zientek (Oak Lawn, Ill./Marist) last weekend at Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.), the Saint Xavier offense has outscored its opponents, 117-3, and posted two wins after starting the season, 0-2.

Playing only to the midpoint of the second quarter due to the large lead, Zientek finished the game connecting on 10 of his 13 pass attempts for 240 yards and four touchdowns. Sophomore wideout Mike Maher (Plainfield, Ill./Providence Catholic) led the receiving corps with three catches for 87 yards, while sophomore running back Donnie Selby (Alsip, Ill./Shepard) led the ground game with 18 carries for 141 rushing yards. The Cougar defense came up big Saturday with four forced turnovers (three interceptions and a fumble) and a blocked punt attempt. Junior linebacker Shane Franken (Carol Stream, Ill./Driscoll), senior strong safety Casey Weidenbacher (Naperville, Ill./Naperville North) and junior cornerback Shawn Bradley (Rockford, Ill./Boylan) each recorded an interception in the game. SXU finished with 521 yards of total offense compared to just 81 yards by Trinity International.

Two early turnovers by the Trojans helped the Cougars quickly take a 14-0 lead. Senior cornerback Chris Rodgers (Homewood, Ill./Homewood-Flossmoor) blocked a punt following TIU's first possession and got great field position, which led to an eventual one-yard touchdown run by junior wide receiver Bill McKeon (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Catholic) with 13:02 left in the first quarter. Franken then returned an interception inside the TIU five-yard line on the Trojans' next possession, which set up a four-yard score by senior running back Juaquin Rodriguez (Merrillville, Ind./Andrean) with 11:27 to play in the opening quarter. A four-yard touchdown catch by junior wide receiver Matt McGinnis (Chicago, Ill./Brother Rice) gave Saint Xavier a 21-0 lead with 5:52 remaining before he hauled in a second TD grab for 39 yards with 1:42 left in the quarter to put his team ahead, 28-0.

Within the first four minutes of the second quarter, Zientek hooked up with McKeon for a pair of touchdown passes, one for nine yards and another for 45 yards, to push the lead to 42-0. With 42 seconds to play in the first half, freshman K.J. Franklin (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee) scored on a seven-yard rush to send Saint Xavier to the locker room with a 49-0 halftime advantage. The second half moved quickly with the only score coming on a 67-yard touchdown run by Franklin with 2:53 remaining in the third quarter. The Cougars finished the game with 281 yards of rushing offense and 240 yards through the air.

Saint Xavier (2-2 overall) returns home to prepare for its annual homecoming game set to take place on Saturday, October 4, against Walsh University (Ohio). The homecoming game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start at Bruce R. Deaton Memorial Field in Chicago and also marks the MSFA Mideast League opener for both teams.