Why this victory tasted a little sweeter for the struggling Richwoods football team
Correction: Richwoods snapped a nine-game losing streak to Peoria Notre Dame. The length of the streak was incorrect in previous versions of this story.
PEORIA — Winning this one was a little more special for Richwoods.
The Knights spoiled Peoria Notre Dame’s homecoming with a 48-35 win in the seventh edition of the Shamrock Classic hosted by Dozer Park on Friday night. Richwoods (1-3, 1-2) puts to bed a 16-game on-the-field losing streak, while also snapping a nine-game skid against Big 12 Conference rival PND.
"It was real nice to actually get us one (win) today," Richwoods senior Cory Wysinger said. "It feels like a job well done, but it's not over with.
"Our plan today was to hit them in the mouth first. We were trying to set the tone early. We've been wanting this for a long time, so once we got the opportunity, our goal was to take it."
Kaizon Davis set the tone early for Richwoods. The 6-foot, 200-pound senior linebacker recovered a fumble on the game's second offensive play. Davis and the Knights capitalized on the turnover, converting it into points a pair of plays later for a 7-0 lead.
From there, the teams combined to score 34 more first-quarter points as Richwoods, which won at the Shamrock Classic for the first time in three games, led 21-20 at the end of the frame. However, no touchdown was prettier than Wysinger's catch and run for a 61-yard score off a short pass from quarterback Greg Burnside.
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound running back finished with 87 rushing yards on five carries and two catches for 63 yards. He added a 74-yard fourth-quarter scoring run to cap the Knights' scoring.
"It was a game-changer (for me)," Wysinger said of his first TD, "because I didn't see it coming. I wasn't expecting to even get a look. ... I'm used to breaking out in the second, third and fourth quarter, so it was eye-opening."
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PND (2-2, 2-2) may have rushed for 333 total yards, with three backs with at least 90 yards, but the Richwoods defense was smothering all night. The Knights forced two fumbles and stopped the Irish on three fourth-down attempts.
Richwoods coach Jim Ulrich says he was especially proud of how Connor McDonald and Darrin Dussett stepped up on defense.
“That side of the ball continues to grow,” Ulrich said, “and grow and grow and they go after it.
“We’ve had the confidence Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, and then Week 4 but it’s just now about maintaining that consistency and that focus and that high level of energy and effort.”
Liam Ludolph (156 yards, TD), Jack Hanley (91 yards, TD) and Jerrimiah Flores (95 yards, two TDs) paced the PND offense, which scored its most points since a Week 1 40-38 win over Manual. The Irish also got a 35-yard TD catch by Ludolph from QB Liam O’Neill.
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Burnside was dynamic as a dual-threat QB, passing for 112 yards on 5-for-9 with that Wysinger score and running for 79 yards on nine carries. His 25-yard TD came off a fake handoff where he went up the middle untouched.
“It felt really good (to get a win),” Burnside said. “I know everyone in there is excited right now. They’re all happy. It was a good see — great feeling.”
The Irish host Granite City (0-3), which plays Saturday, in Week 5, while Richwoods heads to Class 6A ninth-ranked Normal West, which heads to Class 4A No. 4 Richmond-Burton on Saturday.
Adam Duvall is a Journal Star sports reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @AdamDuvall.