Bishop McNamara’s Zinanni gets win 300
Updated: October 14, 2011 11:40PM
Bishop McNamara coach Rich Zinanni won his 300th game against Leo Friday night at the University of Chicago, but the 21-18 victory over the Lions in a Catholic League crossover was no cakewalk.
Down 21-12 late in the game, Leo cut the deficit by six points when Jarod Cooper connected with Solomon Jones for a 21-yard touchdown pass with 2:35 remaining.
The Lions (4-4) had one last possession at their own 20-yard line, but were unable to move the ball in four plays. Anthony Willis intercepted a Cooper pass as time expired to secure the Fighting Irish victory.
The win puts Zinanni in a tie with two other coaches for third place in Illinois history. He is six wins behind former Richards coach Gary Korhonen for second place.
“It’s a weight off my shoulders with my family and friends following me around,” he said. “I’m very happy to get the win.”
After a sluggish first half, the Bishop McNamara offense came alive in the third quarter. Travis Grant (33 carries, 175 yards) ended a nine-play, 80-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run to give the Fighting Irish a 9-6 lead.
Leo responded on its next drive with a one-yard touchdown run by Cooper to go ahead 12-9.
Bishop McNamara countered with the legs of Grant and the arm of quarterback Channing Dolliger. Dolliger’s 23-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Lambert recaptured the lead.
In the fourth quarter Dolliger connected with Lambert again for a seven-yard score to give the Fighting Irish a 21-12 lead with 3:15 left.
Bishop McNamara (6-2) scored first with a 20-yard field goal by Matt Powell with 1:59 left in the first half.
On the ensuing kickoff Keith Harris (19 carries, 119 yards) returned the ball 41 yards to the Irish 41-yard-line. On the first play from scrimmage the senior scrambled 41 yards to give Leo a 6-3 half-time lead.
Leo must win next Friday at Brother Rice to make the playoffs.
“They knew they had to win tonight,” Zinanni said.
Zinanni started coaching at Bishop McNamara in 1975, winning four state championships (1982, 1985, 1986, 1987) and making it to the championship game three other times (978, 1981, 1998).
With the win, Zinanni has a 300-113 career record. This will be the 31st time a Zinanni team appears in the playoffs.
“I didn’t know if we would win three or four games this year,” he said. “The team just came together.”
While he plans to step down as Bishop McNamara athletic director at the of this school year, Zinanni has no plans to stop coaching.
“I want to keep doing it awhile,” he said.
The Irish face Lake Forest Academy at home next Friday.