OTTAWA – Hiawatha football coach Sean Donnelly outlined five things his team needed to do to upset highly touted Ottawa Marquette on Friday night.
One of them was to make “big, special plays.”
Trailing by a touchdown to the Crusaders early in the first quarter, Donnelly called for a reverse on a kickoff return in an attempt to get one of those big plays. However, the play backfired, with Allen Letterer fumbling after the handoff. Marquette recovered and went up by two scores on the ensuing possession.
Hiawatha never recovered against the Crusaders, who improved to 5-0 overall and in Northeastern Athletic Conference play after a 48-7 win.
“We took our shot. Nobody had seen us run that all year. We’ve always had it in our back pocket,” Donnelly said. “We tried to come out, and obviously you saw it was a major disaster, and, unfortunately, that broke one of our second things that we knew we had to do to win, which was don’t turn the ball over.
“And I think you saw, defensively, our kids all of the sudden, their heads were down for a good 10 minutes before they started to get re-energized.”
The Crusaders scored five first-half touchdowns, and most of the second half was played with a running clock. Hiawatha (3-2, 3-2 NAC) got it’s lone score on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Mike Mercado to Brandon Phelps late in the fourth.
Donnelly knew Marquette’s running game out of the Wing-T offense would be tough to stop, and it was – the Crusaders ran for 237 yards, and four of their touchdowns came on the ground.
The Hawks also were missing five starters against the Crusaders, the lone unbeaten team in the NAC.
“Our kids have played their tails off and done an unbelievable job with the adversity that they’ve had to deal with,” Donnelly said.
The Hawks return home, where they are unbeaten, in Week 6 when they take on Chicago Luther North at 7 p.m. Friday.