EF’s Benedek-Martik connection snaps Derry’s regular-season win streak

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Friday, September 1, 2017 | 10:48 PM


Elizabeth Forward did not play a Week Zero game, but the Warriors came out for Week 1 in midseason form.

Warriors quarterback Zachary Benedek threw four touchdown passes to receiver Gavin Martik, running back Brian Malloy added 126 yards and two scores on 18 carries, and Elizabeth Forward ended Derry's 12-game regular-season winning streak Friday with a 39-7 Interstate Conference win.

The Warriors (1-0, 1-0) limited Derry to four first downs in the first half and took a 19-0 lead to the break, the result of touchdown catches of 9, 23 and 12 yards by Martik, who finished with 128 yards on seven receptions. Benedek was 9 for 16 for 148 yards.

“We worked really hard, and Derry beat us last year. They're an extremely well-coached team coming off an 11-1 season,” Elizabeth Forward coach Mike Collodi said. “I knew we'd be in a dog fight, and I'm a little bit surprised at the outcome. But our kids came to play, and we got a couple breaks our way early.”

The Warriors were ahead less than three minutes into their season, after Derry (1-1, 0-1) fumbled a handoff on its first play from scrimmage and the Warriors came up with the ball at the bottom of the pile. The Trojans defense nearly came up with a stop, but on a fourth-and-goal from the 9-yard line, Benedek escaped pressure by rolling to his right and found Martik in the corner of the end zone.

“Any turnover, it hurts. Look at our turnovers so far this year. We've had three of them, and all three have resulted in touchdowns,” Derry coach Tim Sweeney said.

“I like Mike (Collodi). He's one of the good guys in high school football. He had his team well prepared, and right from the get-go, they beat us in all three facets of the game. He and his staff outcoached me and my staff.”

Elizabeth Forward's line continued to play well after getting the early fumble recovery. They recorded three first-half sacks, and on offense, they allowed the Warriors to effectively mix runs and pass plays, leading to six touchdowns on their first eight drives.

“We pride ourselves on our offensive and defensive line play,” Collodi said. “I teach them to create havoc in the backfield on defense, and they opened holes for Brian Malloy tonight, who played outstanding. The defense was lights out, and we held them to zero points for most of the game.”

Malloy scored on third-quarter runs of 23 and 4 yards, the latter of which made the score 39-0 after a muffed punt by Derry. The Trojans got on the board two plays later, when Ryan Polinsky connected with Justin Huss for a 70-yard touchdown pass to end the quarter.

Polinsky finished 10 of 30 for 119 yards, with 10 of the incompletions coming in the fourth quarter when the Trojans were forced to push the ball deep.

Making matters worse for the Trojans were injuries to junior Onreey Stewart and senior Shawn Broadway. Both running backs left the game with lower-body injuries and did not return.

“The unique thing about high school football is when you lose a senior class (like the 2016 team's), it changes dramatically. Our locker room is different, and not necessarily different in a bad way,” Sweeney said. “Your mettle is constantly going to be tested, and we'll see how this football team is going to (react). We're not throwing in the towel, yet.”

Matt Grubba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at mgrubba@tribweb.com

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