By MIKE FITZGERALD
Shaw Media Correspondent
FRANKFORT – Lincoln-Way East quarterback Brendan Morrissey threw four touchdown passes as the Griffins rolled over Joliet West 44-0 Friday in the first round of the Class 8A playoffs.
The Griffins, 10-0, will meet the winner of Saturday’s Oswego East-St. Charles East game. Joliet West finished 5-5.
The Tigers and Griffins played a scoreless first quarter as penalties kept stalling Lincoln-Way East offensive drives. Joliet West’s offense could not muster anything either and after a Tigers’ punt early in the second quarter, the Griffins took over at their own 29-yard-line.
Morrissey, a senior, led the Griffins on a 10-play, 71-yard scoring drive which he finished by throwing a 22-yard touchdown pass to receiver Evan McDermed. Kicker Dominic Dzioban added the extra point to make it 7-0 with 6:59 to play in the second quarter.
Joliet West started its next drive at its own 20. On the first play of the drive, West quarterback Jaxon Aubry fumbled. Defensive lineman and Northwestern commit Devin O’Rourke fell on it, and East was in business at the Tigers’ 17.
An East holding penalty moved the ball to the 22-yard-line before Morrissey found receiver Matt Judd in the end zone with a 22-yard touchdown pass that made it 14-0 with 6:05 to play in the second quarter.
The Griffins’ Dugan Bolsoni set up Lincoln-Way East’s next score when he returned a punt 36 yards to the Tigers’ 17. Running back Ryan Scianna scored from the 6-yard-line four plays later to make it 21-0 with 54 seconds to play in the second quarter.
Lincoln-Way East’s defense forced Joliet West to punt again from its own 13 on the Tigers ’next series. A bad snap on the punt resulted in Aubry, who also is Joliet West’s punter, being tackled at his own 8-yard-line. Two plays later, Morrissey delivered a 3-yard touchdown pass to Jackson Ritter to make it 28-0 at halftime.
“Even though it was a slow start on offense, we were able to come back and put points on the board,” Morrissey said. “And obviously, a shutout by our defense is a great thing to see.
“We’ve been more of a running team, so to be able to throw the ball is good. You need to be able to do both in the playoffs. We were able to limit our penalties and move the ball. We were able to zone out the cold and the wind. You just think about your job and you execute and everything will fall into place. Next week we have to come out faster on offense and have a good start. We have to limit the penalties and execute,” he said.
Morrissey finished the game completing 13-of-16 passes for 180 yards. He threw a 15-yard touchdownpass to tight end Turner Pallissard in the third quarter to make it 35-0.
“Brendan has 5.0 GPA out of 4.0 and a 30 on his ACT and he’s a fierce competitor and a great leader,” East coach Rob Zvonar said. “He’ll be able to tell you why (the offense) wasn’t working. Brendan is the kind of kid who is going to come through for you.”
The East defense came through again holding West to negative 40 yards rushing, and a total of 18 yards of total offense. East’s defense registered a safety and did not allow the Tigers to cross midfield.
Despite the loss, West coach Jason Aubry felt the season was a success.
“It’s a great season. We made the playoffs, but I think we’re over just making the playoffs. We’ve made the playoffs three out of the last four years. We need to win in the playoffs. That should be our goal. Our program is to this point now, and we need to take it to the next point,” Aubry said.
Lincoln-Way East quarterback Brendan Morrissey threw four touchdown passes in the Griffins’ 44-0 win over Joliet West Friday in the IHSA 8A first round playoff game. The senior also threw for 180 yards.