The Carthage College football team (1-3, 0-1 College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin) lost to CCIW-opponent North Park University (1-3, 1-0 CCIW), 22-20, on Saturday, Oct. 5 at the Holmgren Athletic Complex in Chicago. The game, played through rain and a one-hour and 22-minute lighting delay, was the conference-opener for both teams. North Park was whistled for 12 penalties, but that was balanced out by five Carthage turnovers.
Red Men cornerback Nick Tognocchi (Jr. Lindenhurst, Ill./Lake Villa-Lakes Community) intercepted a pass on his own three-yard line to break up a North Park scoring threat on the Vikings' opening drive of the game. Following a Carthage punt, North Park took a 7-0 lead at 6:35 first period when quarterback T.D. Conway hooked up with his brother, Dakota Conway, on a 17-yard touchdown pass that capped a seven-play. 71-yard drive.
On the next Red Men drive, a short snap to quarterback A.J. Simoncelli was fumbled on the North Park 30-yard line. Simoncelli was intercepted on the first Red Men drive of the second quarter, and North Park capitalized with a 20-yard field goal by Noah Moore at 4:53 that put the Vikings up, 10-0. Carthage wasted a fine, 76-yard kick return by Pete Djurickovic when Simoncelli was blind-sided on first-and-10 for the third Red Men turnover of the first half.
Red Men middle linebacker Greg Money (Fr., Palatine, Ill./Fremd) stopped the ensuing North Park drive with an interception that set up a 27-yard field goal by Brett Bukari at 2:07 that made it a 10-3 contest. A 35-yard field-goal attempt by the Vikings' Noah Moore was partially blocked as time ran out in the half.
Running back Reggie Miller fumbled on the first Carthage drive of the second half for the Red Men's fourth turnover. North Park took over on the Red Men's 12-yard line, and two plays later, T.D. Conway connected with Tyler Krebs for a 12-yard touchdown pass. The point-after was no good, and the Vikings led, 16-3, at 12:53 third period.
Carthage running back Derek Bellamy (Jr., Sacramento, Calif./Monterrey Trail) broke three tackles on an 11-yard touchdown carry at 7:32 third period . Bukari's kick was good, and the Red Men trailed, 16-10. Following a North Park punt, Bellamy broke four tackles and scored again on a 53-yard touchdown run. Bukari connected on the extra point, and Carthage took its first lead of the game, 17-16, at 6:28. A lightning delay followed at 4 p.m. that lasted until 5:22 p.m.
Late in the third period, the Vikings bobbled a punt return, with the Red Men taking over at the North Park 12-yard line. Carthage collected three points on that turnover on 26-yard field goal by Bukari at 2:34, making it a 20-16 game. Bukari attempted his third field goal, a 22-yarder, at 6:56 fourth quarter, but it went wide right.
That missed field goal turned out to be a problem, as North Park put together an eight-play, 80-yard scoring drive that ended with a 20-yard TD pass from T.D. Conway to John Barnabee. Noah Moore's point-after attempt was blocked, and the Vikings led, 22-20, at with 4:27 to play.
The fifth Carthage turnover was a killer, as A.J. Simoncelli was intercepted at 3:37 on the ensuing Carthage drive. The Vikings were forced to punt with 2:59 remaining. The Red Men, with no time outs left, went four-and-out and turned the ball over on downs at the Carthage 47-yard line at 2:44. The Vikings got a first down and ran the clock out for the 22-20 victory.
North Park had 449 total offensive yards, 142 yards rushing and 347 yard passing, while Carthage had 283 total yards, 148 on the ground and 135 in the air. T.D. Conway completed 27-of-48 passes for 307 yards, with Dakota Conway catching 12 of those for 97 yards. Carthage quarterback A.J. Simoncelli (So., Downers Grove, Ill./South) was limited for 12-of-24 passing for 135 yards, but Derek Bellamy ran for 152 yards on 31 carries. Wide receiver Evan Jackson (Jr., Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley) caught five passes for 84 yards. Red Men outside linebacker Sean Cleveland (So., Wheaton, Ill./North) led the defensive effort with 15 tackles (5 solo, 10 assisted).
"All the credit goes to North Park," said Carthage coach Mike Yeager. "We didn't finish, and they did. We had a chance to put three more points on the board at the end but we missed a field goal. Then we let a let a guy beat us on inside coverage. We didn't do what we needed to do. Until our offense decides to hold onto the ball, we're going to struggle. We have to get that fixed. You can't turn the ball over like that. Derek Bellamy did a good job and ran the ball hard. We have to go back to work—that's all you can do."
Carthage plays host to conference-opponent and No. 15 Wheaton College (Ill., 4-0, 1-0 CCIW) on Saturday, Oct. 12 in the Red Men's Homecoming game, beginning at 1 p.m.