ALTON — A week ago, the Marquette Catholic Explorers got shut out by Civic Memorial in their season opener.
When the Explorers played the Mater Dei Knights on Saturday at Public School Stadium, they made sure they weren’t going to get blanked again.
Marquette got a pair of touchdowns from sophomore Treven Swingler. He also finished with 71 yards on nine carries.
But Swingler’s effort didn’t help the Explorers pull off the win over the Knights. Mater Dei spoiled Marquette’s home opener with a 35-14 victory.
The Explorers are off to an 0-2 start for the fourth year in a row. Last year, they qualified for the Class 4A state playoffs after dropping their first two games to Civic Memorial and Quincy Notre Dame.
“ We’re going to have to tighten it up if we’re going to win a playoff game and that’s always our goal,” Marquette coach Darrell Angleton said. “Our goals are to win at least one of our non-conference games, win the conference and win a playoff game. We didn’t accomplish goal No. 1, so we have to do a little soul searching on that.”
The Explorers start their Prairie State Conference season on Friday with a home game against Nokomis. Marquette finished second in the conference standings with a 6-1 record last season.
After two games, Marquette gave up 65 points. The Explorers lost 30-0 at Civic Memorial last week.
“ They (CM and Mater Dei) are both ranked in the polls for small schools,” Angleton said. “They’re both good programs. I’m not concerned. We’re going to put up some wins. I wanted to win one of them, to be honest. These guys certainly have the ability to do that. But we’ve got to be consistent.”
Mater Dei, which is looking to compete in the state playoffs for the 13th straight year, improved to 2-0. The Knights started their season last week with a 37-13 win over Effingham at home.
The Knights finished with 443 yards of offense. Senior running back Jake Wieter finished with 172 yards on 23 carries with two touchdowns, senior quarterback Colin Schuetz finished with 115 yards on seven carries with a touchdown and junior wide receiver Lucas Theising had five receptions for 87 yards and two touchdowns.
“ We played great as a team,” Mater Dei senior offensive lineman Drew Toeben said. “Our offensive line did great dominating them up front. Mason Toennies (our left tackle) did great. Our defensive line did awesome, too.”
The Knights stormed to a 21-0 lead after getting a touchdown from Schuetz in the first quarter and TDs from Wieter and Theising in the second.
But Swingler, one of eight sophomores on the varsity roster, ended the shutout with an 11-yard touchdown run with 1:53 left in the second that cut Mater Dei’s lead to 21-7. The TD ended a seven-play, 52-yard drive.
The Knights, who will play Althoff on Friday at home, took a 29-7 halftime lead after Theising scored on a 47-yard touchdown catch with 45 seconds left in the second quarter.
After Mater Dei boosted its lead to 35-7 on a 15-yard touchdown run by Wieter with 7:14 left in the fourth, the six-foot-tall, 170-pound Swingler came back with a 27-yard TD run with 4:34 to go to trim the Knights’ lead to 35-14.
Angleton said he was pleased with Swingler’s performance.
“ Swinger is a special kid,” the Marquette coach said. “He has really good vision. He’s a little more patient.”
Junior D’Avion Peebles finished with nine carries for 40 yards and senior quarterback Brady McAfee had 10 carries for 37 yards for the Explorers.
Craig Hentrich, a 1989 Marquette grad, was honored at halftime. Marquette retired his No. 15 jersey.
Hentrich, a kicker/punter, played 17 years in the NFL and participated in three Super Bowls, including winning one with the Green Bay Packers in 1997. He also played college ball at the University of Notre Dame and is the only kicker/punter to get a full scholarship from the Fighting Irish.
“ It’s so exciting that the school can have a guy like that to visit his alma mater,” Angleton said. “He came down and spoke to the troops before the game and I appreciated him taking the time to do that. The guy who has been to three Super Bowls has probably other things he can do rather than to come here and allow us to honor him.”