The North Park football streak goes on—barely. The Carthage College football team (5-3, 2-3 College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin needed a last-minute touchdown from fullback Colin Altenburg (Fr., Oak Lawn Ill.), his first score of the year, to beat CCIW-opponent North Park University (3-5, 0-5 CCIW), 31-28, on Saturday, Oct. 29 at the Holmgren Athletic Complex in Chicago. North Park has now lost 80-straight conference games since defeating Elmhurst College, 31-21, on Oct. 7, 2000 in Elmhurst, Ill.
North Park's Bryn Nottoli missed a 44-yard field goal attempt on the Vikings' game-opening drive. Carthage fullback Marty Dwyer fumbled on the Red Men's first drive. North Park took over at the Carthage 34-yard line. The Vikings' Tony Kebede attempted a 30-yard field goal. The kick was blocked, and following a short scrum for the ball, Kebede recovered and ran the ball in for a 20-yard touchdown and a 7-0 Vikings lead at 3:43. Carthage quarterback T.J Trepanier fumbled on the Red Men's first drive of the second period. North Park ran a fake punt on fourth down, and Matt Hassan ran the ball 45 yards to the Carthage eight-yard line. Two plays later, Vikings quarterback Tyler Krebs scored from the four-yard line, and Carthage trailed, 14-0, at 11:19 second period. Kebede missed a 48-yard field goal at 2:52 second period, and Carthage's Kurt Krause was wide-right on a 39-yard attempt with 51 seconds to play in the half.
On Carthage's first drive of the second half, Trepanier capped a scoring nine-play, 32-yard drive with a one-yard carry, as the Red Men cut the lead to 14-7 at 10:13. The scoring drive was aided by 31-yard kick return by Reggie Miller, along with a 15-yard personal-foul call on the Vikings. Carthage tied the game, 14-14, on a 34-yard touchdown pass from Trepanier to Chris Schulz at 6:22 third period.
North Park re-gained the lead, 21-14, at 3:14 third quarter on a 16-yard run by Hassan that capped a seven-play, 74-yard drive. The Red Men knotted the contest, 21-21, at 1:02 third quarter on a nine-yard touchdown run by Reggie Miller that completed a five-play, 58-yard drive. North Park re-gained the lead, 28-21, when Krebs scored from the seven-yard line at 9:28 fourth period. Kurt Krause booted a 45-yard field goal off the left upright with 6:23 remaining in the game, cutting the North Park lead to 28-24.
The Vikings were eating up clock on what looked like a final drive when Carthage's Tyler O'Brien recovered an Hassan fumble at the Red Men's 39-yard line at 3:06. Reggie Miller picked up 30 yards on a run, and with quarterback Trevor Beazley running the offense, Carthage had a fourth-and-three at three at the 15-yard line with 1:31 remaining. Beazley completed a 12-yard pass to Kyle Snell at the three-yard line. Miller carried two yards to the one-yard line, and then was stooped at the line of scrimmage on second down. Fullback Colin Altenburg (Fr., Oak Lawn Ill.) scored from the one-yard line on third down with 35 seconds to play. The Krause point-after was good, and Carthage led, 31-28. Red Men free safety Alex Vitkauskas (Jr., Tinley Park, Ill./Chicago-St. Rita) picked off Kreb's first pass on the final North Park series to seal the win.
Carthage collected 335 total offensive yards, 174 rushing and 161 passing, while North Park totaled 394 total yards, 367 on the ground and 27 in the air. The Vikings had a solid lead in time-of-possession, 36:00 to 24:00. Carthage halfback Reggie Miller (So., Downers Grove, Ill./South) ran for 70 yards on 12 carries. Quarterback T.J. Trepanier (Jr., Winthrop Harbor, Ill./Zion-Benton Township) completed seven-of-12 passes for just 86 yards and ran for 63 yards on eight carries. North Park's Matt Hassan rushed for 157 yards on 19 carries. Carthage outside linebacker Brandon Mecozzi collected a game-high 12 tackles (10 solo, 2 assisted).
"It was unbelievable," said Carthage coach Tim Rucks, " and it was also exhausting. I went into the locker room at halftime to talk to the defense, and cornerback Marcus Williams (Sr., Lake Villa, Ill./Lakes Community) threw me out. He's a captain, and he said he had this one. I don't what he said, but it obviously worked. The tables just turned in the second half. Offensive coordinator Terry Peebles deserves a lot of credit. He wasn't yelling and screaming at halftime. We kept our composure and came out with a plan. Our kids had confidence in it, and we showed some patience. We're not the greatest team in the world, but these guys believe in themselves, and they don't like to lose. We went about the right way, and that's how I like things done. It was exciting, and we needed a win. I told the team that on Friday, and we found a way to get one."
Carthage concludes its home schedule on Saturday, Nov. 5 by playing host to CCIW-opponent Illinois Wesleyan University (7-1, 4-1 CCIW) in a 1 p.m. game at Art Keller Field in Kenosha, Wis.