Finlandia opens season with 52-7 loss to Benedictine

Finlandia's 24 Jordin Haley (left) tries to make his way through the pack with the football on Saturday evening at McAfee Field. Eddie O'Neill/Daily Mining Gazette

HANCOCK – While it was a beautiful evening for football as the sun slowly set on McAfee Field, it was not a pretty scene on the gridiron for the Finlandia Lions as they opened their 2022 campaign with a 52-7 thrashing by the Benedictine Eagles.

Benedictine won the toss and took control of the football at their 37. They opened with two big plays and hit a field goal a the 11:35 mark of the first to make it a 3-0 game.

However, the Lions wasted no time in jumping on the scoreboard. At the 10:04, sophomore Raiden Toldness took an 85-yard pass from freshman quarterback Hunter Miles into the end zone for a touchdown. That put the Lions up 7-3, but the lead did not last long – less than 10 minutes to be exact.

With less than a minute to go in the first quarter, Benedictine’s Gregory Hoard ran for an 18-yard touchdown to cap a 40-yard drive and take a 10-7 lead into the second.

The two teams battled it out in the second, trading possessions until around the five-minute mark. It was then that the Eagles completed a 90-yard drive that ended in a 13-yard pass play from quarterback Tyler Jarnagin to Kiandre Morris. With a good extra point, the Eagles took a 17-7 lead into the locker room at half.

Finlandia's quarterback 4 Hunter Miles prepares to hand of the ball in the third quarter of the Lions home opener Saturday at McAfee Field. Eddie O'Neill/Daily Mining Gazette

The second half of the game belonged completely to Benedictine. The Eagles seemed to be unstoppable as their running backs found the holes and combined for five touchdowns. They scored an impressive 35 points in the final 30 minutes on the ground and in the hands of Hoard and Nathan Rillo. Hoard had two short TD runs in the third, and Rillo followed suit in the fourth with three of his own. Rillo’s longest jaunt was a 20-yard dash up the gut with less than five minutes left in the game.

The contrast in numbers tells the story of this season opener. Benedictine had 630 total yards of offense compared to Finlandia’s meager 142. This total yardage included 179 passing yards for the Eagles while the Lions had just 100. The Eagles rushed for an impressing 451 yards while holding the Lions to just 42. Finally, Benedictine amassed 34 first downs compared to just six for Finlandia.

The Lions are on the road next week as they will face Concordia – Chicago at noon on Saturday, Sept. 5.


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