St. Norbert College, after fumbling on its opening drive, scored touchdowns on three of its next four possessions and went on to defeat the Prairie Fire 43-7 in Midwest Conference play Saturday in DePere, Wisconsin.
Knox (0-3, 0-2 MWC) fumbled the opening kickoff, giving the Green Knights a short field with the ball on the Prairie Fire 26. SNC coughed up the football out of the end zone on the second play of the drive, forcing a touchback.
Knox, after driving to the St. Norbert 38 yard line on its second possession of the game, fumbled on the ninth play of the 42-yard drive to give the Knights, the MWC favorite, good field position on their second drive.
St. Norbert (2-1, 2-0 MWC) took advantage, capping off a 9 play, 56-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown pass by quarterback Mike Fabrizio to wide receiver Joe Green for the early 7-0 lead following the successful PAT by Sam Mason.
The SNC defense allowed just two net yards in the Prairie Fire's next three possessions, all resulting in punts. Knox moved the ball on to the Green Knights' 27-yard line with 3:36 to play in the first half, but the 7 play, 37-yard drive ended in another fumble.
St. Norbert, meanwhile, scored its second touchdown at the 12:31 mark of the second quarter when Fabrizio and Green hooked up again, this time from 10 yards out for a 14-0 lead. Fabrizio tossed his third touchdown pass of the opening half when he connected with Jack Dempsey for a 28-yard score and a 21-0 lead.
The Green Knights added to their lead with 12:37 to play in the third quarter when Austin Williams scored on a 33-yard run for a 28-0 advantage. Williams added a 5-yard TD run at the 8:23 mark of the third quarter. St. Norbert was successful on its two-point conversion attempt to go up 36-0.
The Prairie Fire followed by moving the ball to the SNC 23-yard line. The 10-play drive ended when junior Doug Lillibridge (Byron, Illinois) attempted a 40-yard field goal that St. Norbert's Austin Arts blocked.
Fabrizio extended the St. Norbert lead to 43-0 when he completed an 11-yard TD pass to Brian Fliess.
Knox prevented the shutout when junior quarterback Mike Pinter (Naples, Florida) completed an 11-yard pass to junior Dustin Armstrong (Cincinnati, Ohio) for a touchdown for the game's final points.
Pinter, who came on in relief of sophomore starting QB Drew Diaz (Niles, Illinois), completed 2-of-3 passes for 32 yards. He also added 18 yards rushing. Diaz was 6-of-18 passing for 30 yards.
Armstrong led the Fire receivers with two catches for 32 yards.
The Prairie Fire had 13 first downs and gained 154 yards of total offense -- 62 passing and 92 on the ground. Sophomore Derek Mortensen (Crystal Lake, Illinois) had nine carries for 30 yards rushing.
St. Norbert, which owns 13 straight wins against Knox, had 26 first downs and 531 total yards of offense. The Green Knights ran for 249 and passed for 282.
Fabrizio was 20-of-30 passing for 282 yards and four touchdowns. Joe Green led the receiving corps with nine catches for 98 yards and a pair of scores. Logan Krueger added 90 yards on three catches while Fliess had 43 yards and a TD and Dempsey 45 yards and a touchdown.
Leading the Knight rushing attack was Williams, who carried the ball 10 times for 92 yards and two touchdowns.
A bright spot for the Prairie Fire was Lillibridge. His seven punts averaged 43.3 yards, which is tied for the fifth highest average in a game of all-time, and twice he placed the football inside the St. Norbert 20 yard line. One of his punts was for 83 yards, which is the third longest punt in Knox football history.
Senior David Jewell (Spring Grove, Illinois) led the Knox defense with 12 tackles, 10 of them solo stops, and a forced fumble.