Brizzolara's 77-Yard Punt Return Lifts Maroons Past Elmhurst

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CHICAGO -- Dee Brizzolara took a punt 77 yards to the end zone with 1:39 left in the game to give the University of Chicago football team a thrilling 33-26 win over Elmhurst College Saturday night at Stagg Field.

Elmhurst (2-1) took a 19-16 lead into the fourth quarter before Chicago evened the score on a 22-yard field goal from Jeff Sauer on its first possession of the final period.

A 17-yard scoring strike from sophomore quarterback Vincent Cortina to Brizzolara at the 8:40 mark gave the Maroons a 26-19 advantage. Elmhurst answered with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Joe Furco to Corey Thonn with 4:12 to go, tying the game at 26-26.

After Chicago (2-1) stopped Elmhurst on three plays with just under two minutes remaining in the game, Brizzolara fielded Sean Sullivan's punt at his own 23-yard line and raced up the near sideline for his third touchdown of the game and second career punt return TD.

Elmhurst started its final possession at its own 28-yard line. The Bluejays moved to the Chicago 26 in the game's final minute, but Wolfgang Connell picked off Furco on a third-and-10 play to end the threat.

Chicago led 10-7 after one quarter and was up 16-13 at halftime.

The Bluejays opened the scoring on their second drive of the game when Furco hooked up withRodney Payton from 8 yards out. Payton finished the evening with 95 yards on seven grabs.

Chicago got on the board midway through the opening quarter on a 14-yard pass play from Cortina to Brizzolara.

A 34-yard Sauer field goal late in the first quarter gave the Maroons a 10-7 edge, which lasted until the 7:01 mark of the second quarter when Elmhurst's Trevor Spaulding connected on a 33-yard field goal.

Steven Murphy gave the Maroons a 16-10 lead with a 93-yard interception return with 2:31 left in the first half.

Elmhurst closed out the first half scoring on a 27-yard Spaulding field goal with :34 to play in the second stanza.

The Bluejays' Scottie Williams provided the only scoring of the third quarter when his 10-yard run capped an eight-play, 80-yard drive. Williams rushed for 121 yards on 23 carries.

Elmhurst outgained the Maroons 484 to 285 on the evening, but the Bluejays turned the ball over on four occasions -- three times inside the Chicago red zone.

Cortina completed 12 of 27 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Brizzolara caught seven passes for 146 yards, extending his career-long streak to 22 straight games with at least one reception.

Matt Sargent had two of Chicago's five sacks. Jon Janus made a pair of sacks for the Bluejays.

The victory was the Maroons' eighth straight at Stagg Field, matching the longest home winning streak of Chicago's modern football era (since 1969). The win also snapped Elmhurst's eight-game series winning streak.

The Maroons host Wabash College next Saturday at noon.

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