According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary “gladiate” is a botanical term that means shaped like a sword.
That isn’t what Nazareth lineman Isaiah Lee meant when he said he wanted his fellow linemen to gladiate in the second half on Friday against Notre Dame in LaGrange.
Lee, an Iowa State recruit, wanted his line to toughen up like gladiators and shut down Dons running back Ty Gavin. They did exactly that and the Roadrunners dominated the second half to secure a 28-15 victory.
Gavin, a junior, rushed 20 times for 167 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. He was limited to five carries for 17 yards in the second half.
“We knew they were going to run and we knew we could stop it,” Lee said. “We put out a five man front, our big guys in. We got that push and started playing harder after [Nazareth coach Tim Racki] gave us the talk.”
Nazareth running back Devin Blakley had eight carries for 64 yards and two receptions for 13 yards. He scored on an 11-yard pass reception in the first quarter and a seven-yard run in the fourth quarter.
Roadrunners receiver Diamond Evans had five catches for 78 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown pass.
Blakley and Evans are part of a massive group of juniors contributing for No. 13 Nazareth.
“We are in a good spot,” Lee said. “We worked hard and built relationships as a team. We have the talent, we just have to stress the effort.”
Bobby Grimes (9-for-16 for 102 yards and one touchdown) and Zach Stevens (5-for-10 for 52 yards and one touchdown) split time at quarterback for Nazareth (3-0, 1-0 East Suburban Catholic).
“We can do a lot more since we have both of them,” Blakley said. “They are both really good players and we can use them to our advantage.”
Everything fell Nazareth’s way in the first quarter as the Roadrunners took advantage of two Notre Dame fumbles and led 14-0.
Gavin led the Dons’ charge back in the second quarter. He broke loose for a 55-yard touchdown run down the left sideline with 7:56 to play in the first half. It changed the momentum of the game. Gavin scored on a one-yard run with a minute left in the half to give Notre Dame a 15-14 advantage.
“We knew we started to slow down in the second quarter and they took advantage of it,” Lee said. “But we knew we were getting the ball back and could take the advantage back.”
The Dons (2-1, 0-1) had difficulty snapping the ball throughout the game and fumbled three snaps.
“They started to get a little bit timid on the offensive line,” Nazareth lineman Cameron Leach said. “Their center was scared out of his mind. We did what we do.”
Notre Dame didn’t throw the ball at all in the first half. Quarterback Luke Schutt finished 6-for-12 for 78 yards.
Ten different players carried the ball for the Roadrunners, who have a massive offensive line. The group, mainly juniors, averages 6-3 and 276-pounds.
“It’s a process with a lot of people being young, you have to get everyone up to varsity speed,” Leach said. “But I think we are all coming together pretty well.”