October 29, 2011

North Central Ties National Record in Rout of Elmhurst

More news about: North Central (Ill.)

Shaking off a slow start and putting together what turned out to be a night of record-setting efforts, the North Central College football team won for the seventh straight time on Saturday, rolling past the Elmhurst College Bluejays, 51-10, at Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium.

The sixth-ranked Cardinals (7-1, 5-0 College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin) won for the 14th straight time in CCIW play and extended their winning streak in regular-season home games to 22 consecutive contests. 

North Central established two new school records and tied a national NCAA Division III record on Saturday, as Josh Mitchell's 93-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter goes down as the longest in the history of the Cardinals' program. North Central has returned six interceptions for touchdowns this season, tying the national record. Kicker Nick Dace, meanwhile, converted three field-goal attempts to give him 23 for his career, also a new school record.

North Central forced an Elmhurst punt on the game's opening drive, and took its own first possession 74 yards in nine plays and got a 38-yard field goal from Dace to get on the board first. The Bluejays (4-4, 2-3 CCIW) responded with a field goal of their own as Trevor Spaulding connected on a 28-yard attempt to tie the game with 4:47 left in the opening period.

The Cardinals' second score, also a field goal, was set up by their special-teams unit, as Elmhurst returner Jon Janus mishandled a punt on his own five-yard line and Alex Tripp dove in and recovered the ball. The hosts were unable to punch the ball into the end zone, and Dace came on for a 33-yard field goal to put the Cardinals back in front. After the North Central defense forced a punt, the Cardinals traveled 58 yards in seven plays before scoring the first touchdown of the evening on a three-yard run by Jordan Tassio with 5:51 left in the first half. 

Janus' struggles continued on the ensuing kickoff, as the Cardinals' Jordan Dean forced a fumble and Greg Dickson pounced on the ball to give North Central possession once again at the Elmhurst 34.

"Two weeks in a row, we've been able to get a fumble recovery on a muffed punt," said North Central head coach John Thorne. "It was funny, because we got in the huddle and I said, 'Guys, if we can do it on the punt team, we can do it on the kickoff team too.' Maybe I need to say that more often."

Four plays later, quarterback Tyler Dicken connected with tight end Alex Haan on a 21-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 20-3. After another Bluejay punt, the Cardinals took over on offense with just 42 seconds left before halftime. Dicken, however, fired a 21-yard pass to Tassio and a 28-yard strike to Nick Hicks to put North Central in position for a third field goal by Dace. The 37-yard kick split the uprights as time ran out, sending the Cardinals into the break with a 23-3 advantage.

The Cardinals' first drive of the third quarter looked as if it would yield a field goal as well, but a botched snap forced punter Tyler Rasche to roll out and attempt a pass, which fell incomplete. Three plays later, however, the North Central defense forced a punt and the offense returned to the field. Nick Kukuc gained 34 yards on three consecutive runs to jumpstart the drive, and Tassio capped off a seven-play, 57-yard drive with a seven-yard TD run.

The Cardinals stuffed another fourth-down conversion attempt on Elmhurst's next drive, taking over on their own eight-yard line. The drive appeared to end with a punt, but a Bluejay penalty kept the drive alive. Dicken threw a 24-yard pass to Hicks and a 42-yard bomb to Bai Kabba to get North Central into the red zone, and Kukuc ran in from two yards out on the second play of the fourth quarter as the hosts took a commanding 37-3 lead.

"The offensive line really had a much better blocking half in the second half," Thorne said, "which is good to see because a lot of times you go in at halftime and you're ahead, and you come back out and play too cautious, too safe and the next thing you know the other team is back in the game."

Elmhurst scored its lone touchdown of the night on the next drive, as a 59-yard, six-play drive culminated in a 24-yard TD pass from Joe Furco to Andrew Tubek with 12:13 to play. The Bluejays came up with an interception on North Central's next drive, but were unable to move the ball and turned it over on downs at their own 47. Kukuc ran for 35 yards on the next play from scrimmage, and Dicken followed by calling his own number for a 12-yard scoring run with 10:21 to play, boosting the lead to 44-10. Mitchell capped off the scoring by returning an interception for a touchdown for the second time this season on the next drive. 

The Cardinals finished the game with 529 yards of total offense. Dicken completed 18 of 33 passes for a season-high 325 yards, as Hicks established career highs in leading the team in receptions (7) and receiving yards (118). Kukuc broke the 100-yard barrier for the third straight week, gaining 141 yards on 18 carries. 

"They were doing a lot of things to try to confuse Tyler, and I thought he had a really solid game," Thorne pointed out.  The receivers are getting better at reading secondaries, and Nick Kukuc and Jordan Tassio both had some really big runs."

The North Central defense, which did not allow a third-down conversion in 13 attempts, was led by Joey Michals, who finished with nine tackles, two tackles for loss, a quarterback sack and a forced fumble. Josh McLeod added seven stops and Shane Dierking contributed three pass breakups. 

Furco completed 20 of 40 passes for 237 yards, as Joe St. Peter led the Elmhurst receiving corps with 52 yards on six catches. Bluejay running back Scottie Williams, who entered Saturday's action averaging 144 rushing yards per game, was limited to 74 yards on 16 carries. Wayne Tuckson led the Elmhurst defense with nine tackles.

North Central hosts 13th-ranked Wheaton College (7-1, 4-1 CCIW) on Saturday at 1 p.m. in the annual Battle for the Little Brass Bell. 

comments powered by Disqus
Sep. 4: All times Eastern
8:00 PM
East Texas Baptist at Tex. A&M-Commerce
Sep. 5: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Anna Maria at Worcester State
7:00 PM
Western New England at Springfield
7:00 PM
Albright at Kean
7:00 PM
Widener at Rowan
Live Stats Live Stats Audio
7:00 PM
WPI at Curry
7:00 PM
Mass-Dartmouth at Mount Ida
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Salve Regina at Bridgewater State
7:00 PM
William Paterson at SUNY-Maritime
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Ursinus at TCNJ
7:00 PM
Fitchburg State at Becker
7:00 PM
Nichols at Westfield State
Video
7:30 PM
McDaniel at Catholic
7:30 PM
Trine at Manchester
Live Stats Video Audio
8:00 PM
Waldorf at UW-Whitewater
Live Stats
Sep. 6: All times Eastern
12:00 PM
Endicott at Framingham State
12:00 PM
Dickinson at Hobart
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Holland College (PEI, Canada) at Maine Maritime
Video
12:00 PM
Otterbein at St. John Fisher
12:00 PM
Union at Ithaca
12:00 PM
Pomona-Pitzer at MIT
12:00 PM
Husson at Alfred
12:00 PM
Randolph-Macon at Johns Hopkins
1:00 PM
St. Lawrence at Coast Guard
1:00 PM
Thomas More at Wesley
Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
Plymouth State at Castleton State
1:00 PM
Lebanon Valley at Franklin and Marshall
1:00 PM
Emory and Henry at Ferrum
Audio
1:00 PM
Washington and Lee at Averett
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Hampden-Sydney at Wabash
Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
Rose-Hulman at Kalamazoo
Live Stats Video
1:00 PM
Wilmington at Olivet
1:00 PM
King's at Moravian
1:00 PM
Alfred State at Morrisville State
1:00 PM
Susquehanna at Lycoming
Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
Oberlin at Brockport State
1:00 PM
Utica at Misericordia
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Delaware Valley at Montclair State
1:00 PM
Southern Virginia at Methodist
1:00 PM
Ohio Wesleyan at Bluffton
1:00 PM
Marietta at Kenyon
1:00 PM
Merchant Marine at Apprentice
1:00 PM
Cortland State at Buffalo State
Audio
1:00 PM
Muhlenberg at Wilkes
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Sewanee at DePauw
1:30 PM
Adrian at Defiance
1:30 PM
RPI at Norwich
1:30 PM
Alma at Heidelberg
1:30 PM
Berry at Maryville (Tenn.)
Live Stats Video
1:30 PM
Bridgewater (Va.) at Gettysburg
1:30 PM
Muskingum at Waynesburg
1:30 PM
St. Vincent at John Carroll
1:30 PM
Mount Union at Bethany
1:30 PM
Juniata at Grove City
Audio
2:00 PM
Franklin at Illinois Wesleyan
2:00 PM
Rhodes at Austin
2:00 PM
Carleton at Macalester
2:00 PM
UW-Platteville at Buena Vista
2:00 PM
Ohio Northern at Washington U.
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
UW-River Falls at St. John's
2:00 PM
Crown at Gustavus Adolphus
2:00 PM
Concordia-Moorhead at Jamestown
2:00 PM
Simpson at Iowa Wesleyan
2:00 PM
Hope at Monmouth
Audio
2:00 PM
Lawrence at Rockford
2:00 PM
Aurora at Illinois College
2:00 PM
Carroll at Lakeland
2:00 PM
Elmhurst at Loras
2:00 PM
Millikin at Greenville
2:00 PM
Coe at Wheaton (Ill.)
2:00 PM
Presentation at Luther
2:00 PM
Martin Luther at Maranatha Baptist
2:00 PM
MacMurray at Culver-Stockton
2:00 PM
Eureka at Knox
2:00 PM
UW-Stout at Dakota Wesleyan
2:00 PM
Huntingdon at Louisiana College
Video
2:00 PM
Ripon at St. Scholastica
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Hendrix at Westminster (Mo.)
2:10 PM
UW-Eau Claire at St. Thomas
3:00 PM
St. Norbert at Carthage
4:00 PM
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at Puget Sound
4:00 PM
Lewis and Clark at Whitworth
4:00 PM
College of Idaho at Pacific
4:30 PM
Arizona Christian at George Fox
5:00 PM
Hartwick at Western Connecticut
6:00 PM
Salisbury at Christopher Newport
6:00 PM
Augustana at Mount St. Joseph
7:00 PM
Carnegie Mellon at Case Western Reserve
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Stevenson at N.C. Wesleyan
7:00 PM
Butler at Wittenberg
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Shenandoah at Gallaudet
Audio
7:00 PM
Wooster at Washington and Jefferson
7:00 PM
Geneva at Frostburg State
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Thiel at Allegheny
7:00 PM
Taylor (Ind.) at Anderson
7:00 PM
Hiram at Westminster (Pa.)
7:00 PM
Denison at Earlham
7:00 PM
Greensboro at Guilford
7:00 PM
Albion at UW-Stevens Point
7:00 PM
Concordia (Wis.) at North Park
7:00 PM
Beloit at Chicago
Live Stats
7:00 PM
LaGrange at Birmingham-Southern
7:00 PM
Howard Payne at Trinity (Texas)
7:00 PM
Mary Hardin-Baylor at Millsaps
7:00 PM
Sul Ross State at Texas Lutheran
7:00 PM
Robert Morris-Chicago at UW-Oshkosh
7:00 PM
UW-La Crosse at Dubuque
Live Stats Video
7:30 PM
Hanover at Centre
7:30 PM
Central at Benedictine
Live Stats Video Audio
8:00 PM
St. Olaf at Northwestern (Minn.)
8:00 PM
Hamline at Minnesota-Morris
8:00 PM
Lake Forest at Wisconsin Lutheran
8:00 PM
Wartburg at Augsburg
Audio
8:00 PM
Hardin-Simmons at Southwestern
Dec. 20: All times Eastern
Final
at UW-Whitewater 52, Mount Union 14
@ Salem Stadium; Salem, Va.
Box Score Recap Photos Photos
Dec. 14: All times Eastern
Final
UW-Whitewater 16, at Mary Hardin-Baylor 15
Box Score Recap Recap Photos
Final
at Mount Union 41, North Central (Ill.) 40
Box Score Recap Recap Photos

What We're Reading