The game started just as a dust storm was coming through so Seton took the kick and kept the ball on the ground with three straight hands-offs, each for little or no gain. Their first series was a three-and-out and the 4th down punt into the wind didn't get very far giving the Saints offense and QB Sean Renfree excellent field position. After a hand-off to Andrew Stutz for a couple yards, Renfree showed off his arm hitting Brandon Hirneise on an in and up route for 30 yards and a Saint touchdown – the PAT was good and just like that it was 7 – 0 Notre Dame.
Seton stuck with the ground game and the "thunder and lightening" running of stout Jon McDonald (thunder) and nimble Corey Vaughan (lightening). The combo moved the chains once before an errant pitch from QB Lucas McCarville was fumbled out of bounds for a loss of 13 bringing up 4th and long.
Brandon Hirneise had a decent 30 yard return on the Seton punt once again giving the Saint offense good field position. After a holding call, and an incomplete pass, a pitch out to Andy Wilder went for 17 yards and another ND touchdown. With its second possession of the game – ND was up after the PAT 14 – 0 with left in the first quarter.
On Seton's third possession they finally went to the air with Lucas McCarville completing a pass to Nick Gleiser for 10 yards. A QB keeper and some tough running by McDonald and Vaughan gave Seton another first down but the ND line stiffened and forced a 4th and 5 on the ND 40 yard line. Seton went for it and aired it out to the end zone as McCarville looked for Gleiser in the end zone. The pass was incomplete but a pass interference call was made on ND giving Seton a 1st and 10 on the ND 25 and their first legitimate scoring threat. However, on second down McDonald fumbled the hand-off and Notre Dame recovered snuffing the Sentinel drive.
It was Up to the Seton D to tighten up and they did just that forcing a three-and-out and the Saints first punt after losing yardage. Seton took the punt with a fair catch and began their 4th drive. Even with the Seton Oline not having much success against a bigger Notre Dame Defensive front, coach Rodger Schenks stuck with the running game. The holes just weren't there as Seton ran several pitch plays and sweeps only to yield a 4th and 6 as the final seconds of the first quarter ticked away. At the end of the 1st it was 14 – 0 Saints pitching the shut out.
After the punt the Saints went to the ground with Anthony Greco and Patrick Foley both getting some carries. A pass interference call on Seton kept the drive going. Seton had a tackle for a loss, then on a Renfree sack by Jon McDonald, Renfree lost the ball and McDonald recovered picking it up and running for a few yards. Seton's offense took over with its first decent field position of the night on the 35 yard line. Some more solid running by McDonald and a nice in route pass from McCarville to Gleiser hit pay dirt and Seton was on the board with a touchdown – the PAT was good and Seton had cut the score in half 14 – 7.
With left to play in the half Hirneise took the kick-off just as a light rain started to fall. On the first play from scrimmage Renfree checked off at the line and made a nice looking pass to his big tight-end Austin Briehl right up the middle. It was a nice one-handed grab and Briehl out ran the DBs for a 60 yard touchdown. The PAT was good and Notre Dame went back up by double digits 21 – 7.
It was back to the ground after the kick and Seton moved the chains a couple times with more running between the tackles for McDonald and a couple QB keepers by McCarville. However, Seton was its own worst enemy as another muffed hand-off netted a 12 yard loss for Seton. On the 4th down punt the ball sailed over the kickers head, he grabbed it and was down on the 30 yard line giving the Saints a short field as the half was coming to a close. ND couldn't capitalize after an incomplete pass, a run by Stutz for a short gain and another incomplete pass. ND went for it on 4th and 4 but the pass to Mart Miachak was short and ND turned it over on downs.
Seton really needed a strong drive to end the half but instead McCarville fumbled a snap while under pressure from Saints LB Anthony Greco causing a loss of 11 yards. The quick short-gain passes from Seton were not enough to gain the lost yardage and with left in the half they punted the ball away. It was a decent kick going with the wind but once again, Hirneise had a huge return of 40 yards. With under a minute left and on 2nd down Renfree passed over the middle to Briehl, the ball went right off his hands and into the hands of Hirneise who scampered in for the TD. The PAT was good and the teams went to the locker room with ND up 28 – 7.
** At half time, the Seton and Notre Dame fans all stood, said a prayer, and gave a moment of silence for Valley Christian's RB Danny Pasanella who was found dead in his house on the morning of Friday the 21st. Truly a class act by both student bodies while playing on the VCHS field. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Danny's family, team mates, and fellow students.**
The third quarter began with Notre Dame and coach Scot Bemis giving Seton a dose of its own medicine - lots of ground game. Runs of 5 yards or more by Stutz and Greco pushed the ball up the field but on 3rd and 5 Refree was forced to scramble while looking to pass and went out of bounds bringing up a 4th and 2 on the 22. ND went for it but a screen pass to Stutz fell incomplete and Seton took over on downs.
After a QB Sack by Greco and Briehl, Seton once again went three-and-out to start a half and punted away on 4th and 6.
Renfree went back to passing and with the help of a pass interference call on Seton the Saints offense moved the ball down the field – but the offense must have been a bit cocky as they once again went for it on 4th and 5 on the Seton 40 and came up short. The Seton D had stepped it up and they got the ball back on downs.
Seton must have got a second wind because they really made a game of it from here on out. A 12 yard pass from McCarville to Mike Malpiedi got the ball to the mid-field. A run by McDonald and a pass to Mick Gleiser moved the chains again. A pass to Chris Baker on 3rd and 8 went for 10 yards. A run by McDonald and a quick out pass to Gleiser set up 3rd and 1 on the 17 yard line. Another 3 step pass from McCarville to Gleiser and some nice yards after catch gave Seton their second TD of the night – PAT good 28 – 14 ND in the third. Feeling the momentum Seton did a pooch kick and recovered the ball on the ND 33 yard line. And at the end of the third quarter Seton had the ball and was trying to mount a come back.
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The Seton D still smelled blood and forced a 3 and out by ND with the punter standing in his own end zone to punt away, Seton was certain to get the ball back with decent field position. Seton got the ball on the 40 but other than a 22 yard catch by Gleiser they could not move the ball. They once again went for it on 4th down and once again turned it over on downs. ND got the ball and used some solid running by Stutz to run the clock down. Seton would stop them but with left in the game the Seton passing game couldn't move the ball down the field. ND took a knee to end the game with a final score Notre Dame Prep 28 – Seton Catholic 14.
Seton was a bit under sized and gave ND the ball on a short field too many times to be able expect a win. The Saints lines were dominant on both sides and Renfree's arm proved to be too much for the Sentinel secondary. Notre Dame scored all their points in the first half and kind of went into cruise control in the second. Seton threatened twice in the second half but could not punch it in when it counted. Seton's transition to 4A once again proves to be a rough one – but there are signs of hope as the team matures. Notre Dame has a good balance and knows why their QB is a Georgia Tech commit – he is steady and precise in the pocket.
Since most 4A kids play on both sides of the ball, the playmakers on one side are usually the same ones on the other side. For Seton the tandem of Vaughan and McDonald are a solid rushing pair. Gleiser did some nice things as a WR and DB and McDonald as a DE made some nice tackles as well. For Notre Dame, Renfree gets the passing award while his two big targets Briehl and Hirnese get some accolades – Hirnese as a return man as well. Greco on D at LB played solid all night and Andy Wilder did fine as both kicker and safety for the Saints.