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. 

Sep. 30: All times Eastern
Final
Randolph-Macon 24, at Shenandoah 19
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Final
at Washington and Lee 49, Emory and Henry 23
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Oct. 1: All times Eastern
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Massachusetts Maritime 30, at Fitchburg State 0
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Becker 42, at Gallaudet 18
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at Hobart 38, Merchant Marine 35
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RPI 51, at Rochester 13
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Endicott 21, at MIT 9
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at William Paterson 18, Montclair State 13
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at Wesleyan 34, Hamilton 6
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Wabash 45, at Hiram 21
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Middlebury 35, at Colby 14
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Amherst 31, at Bowdoin 10
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Frostburg State 25, at Kean 18
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at DePauw 48, Kenyon 35
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Ferrum 30, at Greensboro 0
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Maryville (Tenn.) 52, at Methodist 13
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FDU-Florham 32, at Wilkes 28
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at Castleton 23, Anna Maria 13
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Moravian 33, at Ursinus 32
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Thomas More 45, at Westminster (Pa.) 35
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Alma 56, at Kalamazoo 26
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Franklin and Marshall 20, at Dickinson 10
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Wesley 63, at Southern Virginia 9
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Adrian 28, at Albion 21
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Husson 33, at SUNY-Maritime 12
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Apprentice 24, at Alfred State 8
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at Salisbury 41, TCNJ 6
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Salve Regina 47, at Curry 14
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at Gettysburg 38, McDaniel 23
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Delaware Valley 48, at Lebanon Valley 0
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at Denison 21, Ohio Wesleyan 14
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at Ithaca 23, Utica 14
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Alfred 49, at Morrisville State 24
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Western New England 56, at Nichols 27
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at Albright 27, King's 7
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Muhlenberg 33, at Susquehanna 30
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at MacMurray 31, Minnesota-Morris 10
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at Chicago 38, Birmingham-Southern 34
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Westminster (Mo.) 35, at Crown 7
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at Allegheny 26, Oberlin 21
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Mount Ida 15, at Norwich 14
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Trinity (Conn.) 38, at Williams 13
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at Heidelberg 27, Muskingum 24
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at WPI 21, Union 14
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John Carroll 67, at Wilmington 7
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Mount Union 38, at Ohio Northern 21
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Franklin 41, at Manchester 27
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Mount St. Joseph 42, at Hanover 6
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Widener 24, at Lycoming 21
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Defiance 59, at Earlham 28
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at Trine 62, Concordia-Chicago 19
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Capital 42, at Otterbein 41
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at Westfield State 14, Plymouth State 13
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Wittenberg 41, at Wooster 13
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at Rose-Hulman 44, Anderson 10
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at Bridgewater 45, Hampden-Sydney 35
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Waynesburg 14, at Grove City 10
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Cortland 50, at Hartwick 47
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at Hendrix 35, Centre 28
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Eureka 27, at Greenville 13
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Northwestern (Minn.) 25, at Iowa Wesleyan 18
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at Lakeland 16, Concordia (Wis.) 7
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at Benedictine 67, Rockford 15
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Aurora 48, at Wisconsin Lutheran 13
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Nebraska Wesleyan 27, at Luther 24
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Rhodes 36, at Sewanee 21
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at St. Norbert 35, Lake Forest 21
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Concordia-Moorhead 46, at Gustavus Adolphus 21
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at Carleton 34, Hamline 31
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St. John's 42, at Bethel 27
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UW-Whitewater 30, at UW-Platteville 24
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Buena Vista 34, at Loras 24
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at Hardin-Simmons 53, Sul Ross State 29
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UW-Stevens Point 28, at UW-Eau Claire 19
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at Lawrence 36, Beloit 22
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at Monmouth 57, Cornell 14
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at Coe 37, Wartburg 34
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Dubuque 35, at Central 17
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Wheaton (Ill.) 48, at Illinois Wesleyan 24
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at Mary Hardin-Baylor 66, McMurry 3
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Final
Elmhurst 14, at Augustana 3
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Macalester 16, at Ripon 8
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at Illinois College 50, Grinnell 14
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at Louisiana College 35, Howard Payne 7
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East Texas Baptist 60, at Belhaven 47
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at St. Thomas 55, Augsburg 7
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Washington and Jefferson 62, at Thiel 14
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at Morthland 42, Maranatha Baptist 10
3:00 PM
St. Scholastica at Martin Luther
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Carthage 38, at Carroll 14
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at UW-Oshkosh 45, UW-Stout 17
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Willamette 63, at Puget Sound 24
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Final
at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 45, Whittier 13
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at Pacific Lutheran 27, Pacific 16
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Final
at Linfield 59, Lewis and Clark 7
4th - 15:00
7 Framingham State
20 Mass-Dartmouth
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3rd - 00:39
41 Averett
34 LaGrange
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15:00 4th
22 Whitworth
23 George Fox
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5:05 PM
UW-River Falls at UW-La Crosse
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1st qtr - 2:43 (delayed)
6 Olivet
0 Hope
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Start of 2nd
13 Bethany
21 Carnegie Mellon
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2nd - 01:27
14 St. Vincent
17 Case Western Reserve
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HALF
0 Christopher Newport
10 Rowan
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6:00 PM
Bridgewater State at Western Connecticut
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7:55 1st
0 Berry
7 Washington U.
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10:00 PM
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Occidental at Redlands
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Oct. 1: All times Eastern
Final
at Hobart 38, Merchant Marine 35
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Final
at Johns Hopkins 52, Juniata 17
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Final
at Salisbury 41, TCNJ 6
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Final
Thomas More 45, at Westminster (Pa.) 35
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Final
Wabash 45, at Hiram 21
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Final
at St. John Fisher 28, Buffalo State 24
Recap
Final
Stevenson 48, at Misericordia 0
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Final
at St. Lawrence 42, Springfield 14
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Final
at N.C. Wesleyan 41, Huntingdon 31
Box Score
Final
Mount Union 38, at Ohio Northern 21
Box Score Photos
Final
Franklin 41, at Manchester 27
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Final
Wittenberg 41, at Wooster 13
Box Score Recap Recap
Final
Wheaton (Ill.) 48, at Illinois Wesleyan 24
Final
UW-Whitewater 30, at UW-Platteville 24
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Final
St. John's 42, at Bethel 27
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Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 66, McMurry 3
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Final
at Hardin-Simmons 53, Sul Ross State 29
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Final
East Texas Baptist 60, at Belhaven 47
Final
Dubuque 35, at Central 17
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Final
at St. Thomas 55, Augsburg 7
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Final
at UW-Oshkosh 45, UW-Stout 17
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Final
at Linfield 59, Lewis and Clark 7
HALF
0 Christopher Newport
10 Rowan
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