Elmhurst Football Team Falls to Fifth-Ranked North Central

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ELMHURST, Ill. - The Elmhurst College football team dropped to 5-3 overall following a 47-13 loss to fifth-ranked North Central College. 

North Central (8-0, 5-0 CCIW) used 37 consecutive points to turn a four-point deficit into a 33-point fourth quarter lead. 

Trailing 3-0 in the opening quarter, the Bluejays drove 66 yards in nine plays and grabbed a 7-3 lead when Scottie Williams scored on a two-yard touchdown plunge.

After Elmhurst's defense forced the Cardinals to punt, the Bluejays drove inside the North Central red zone before the momentum shifted. The Cardinals' defense pushed Elmhurst back 11 yards and forced the Bluejays to punt. Just two plays later, North Central grabbed the lead when Brad Crackel connected with Joe Antonacci for an 88-yard touchdown.

After an Elmhurst three-and-out, Antonacci returned the Bluejays' punt 55 yards for a touchdown, giving the Cardinals a 16-7 lead. 

The Cardinals added a one-yard Jordan Tassio touchdown run before the half to lead 23-7 at halftime.

North Central capitalized on an Elmhurst interception early in the third quarter to pad its lead. Nick Dace booted a 30-yard field goal to give the Cardinals a 26-7 lead. 

Antonacci's big day continued near the end of the third quarter. The Cardinals' receiver returned a punt 64 yards to the Elmhurst four-yard line. On the very next play, Nick Kukuc scored on a four-yard touchdown run to put NCC up 33-7. 

Following an Elmhurst punt to open the fourth quarter, the Cardinals drove 44 yards with Spencer Stanek capping the scoring drive with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Andy Stuursma.

Elmhurst finally ended the Cardinals scoring streak by driving 77 yards on the ensuing kickoff. Joe Furco hit Rodney Payton from three yards out to cap the scoring drive and cut North Central's lead down to 40-13. 

North Central added one last score on its next possession. Stanek hit Kukuc on a screen pass and the Cardinals' running back broke free for a 48-yard touchdown to make the final score 47-13. 

North Central finished with 367 yards of offense while Elmhurst totaled 257 yards of offense. Elmhurst struggled to run the ball against the Cardinals' defense. The Bluejays finished with -34 yards from the rushing attack. 

Furco led Elmhurst's offense by finishing 27-of-49 for 291 yards and a touchdown. Williams was limited to just 14 yards and one touchdown on 10 carries. Bobby Vavlas was Furco's favorite target, catching eight passes for 75 yards. Payton finished with six receptions for 129 yards and a touchdown.

Tassio led the Cardinals' ground attack with 81 yards on 17 carries. Crackel and Stanek combined to finish 8-of-15 for 215 yards and three touchdowns. Stanek was an impressive 7-of-7 for 127 yards and two scores. Antonacci caught three passes for 107 yards and a touchdown while also totaling 119 yards on two punt returns. 

Randy Wright led Elmhurst's defense with nine tackles, including three tackles for loss and a pair of sacks. Brandon Jones added eight stops while Jon Janus recorded seven tackles.  

Charles Stewart led the Cardinals' defense with seven tackles. Jim Clendenning recorded six stops, including four tackles for loss. 

Elmhurst hosts Augustana College next Saturday (November 6). Kickoff against the Vikings is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.

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