By Kevin Juday, Elmhurst Sports Information Director
CHICAGO, Ill. - After a sluggish opening half on offense, the Elmhurst football team exploded for 28 points in the second half en route to a 28-14 win at North Park.
After totaling just 83 yards off offense and no points in the opening half, the Bluejays erupted for 213 yards and four touchdowns in the game's final 30 minutes. Meanwhile, Elmhurst's defense allowed just seven points and 118 yards to the Vikings in the second half while also forcing two turnovers.
Elmhurst (3-5, 2-3 CCIW) had a chance to get on the scoreboard early in the contest after Stephen Ritter picked off a T.D. Conway pass and returned it 42 yards to the North Park 36-yard line. Elmhurst pushed the ball down to the Vikings' 30-yard line, but David Tomis' 47-yard field goal came up short.
Most of the first half turned into a defensive struggle as the two teams punted a combined 10 times in the first 30 minutes. North Park (2-6, 2-3 CCIW) finally broke the scoreless tie late in the second quarter. The Vikings capitalized on an Elmhurst fumble, recovering the loose ball at the Bluejays' 22-yard line. Three plays later, T.D. Conway hit his brother Dakota Conway for a three-yard score to give the Vikings a 7-0 lead with just 18 seconds left in the half.
The Bluejays' defense forced a turnover at the start of the third quarter as George DeMaria intercepted Conway at the Vikings' 24-yard line on the first play from scrimmage. The Bluejays needed just four plays to even the score as Josh WIlliams plunged in to the end zone from a yard out to put Elmhurst on the board.
North Park answered back immediately as the Vikings drove 75 yards in 10 plays and Marquis Magwood capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown run to put the Vikings back on top 14-7.
North Park's lead would not last as Elmhurst took the kick off and promptly drove 62 yards in 10 plays. Facing a fourth-and-four from the Vikings' 28-yard line, Garrett Claxon picked up a first down with a seven-yard run. Two plays later, Claxon plowed into the end zone on an 11-yard run to knot the score at 14.
The Bluejays' defense forced North Park into a three-and-out and Elmhurst's offense quickly scored on its third straight possession of the half. The Bluejays strung together a 13-play, 75-yard scoring drive and twice converted on fourth down to sustain the drive. Facing a fourth-and-one from the Vikings' 14-yard line, Williams broke loose and scored to give Elmhurst its first lead of the contest with 11 minutes remaining in the game.
Elmhurst's defense forced North Park into another three-and-out and after the Bluejays' drive stalled, Elmhurst pinned the Vikings in at their own 14-yard line. The Bluejays' defense pushed North Park back four yards and forced another punt, giving the Elmhurst offense the ball back at the Vikings' 43-yard line.
Facing a third-and-three from the North Park 24-yard line, Andrew Tubek ripped off a 23-yard run down to the Vikings' one-yard line. Tubek finished the drive with a one-yard touchdown plunge on the very next play to put the game out of reach with jut 1:48 left to play.
Elmhurst ended any North Park chance when Mark Evangelista picked off Conway at the Elmhurst six-yard line.
Elmhurst finished with 315 yards of offense, including 183 on the ground and 132 through the air. North Park totaled 290 yards with 283 yards coming through the air. Elmhurst's defense allowed North Park just seven yards of rushing on 22 plays.
Williams paced Elmhurst's ground attack with 78 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. He also led the Bluejay receivers with five catches for 45 yards. Claxon rushed seven times for 39 yards and a touchdown while also catching two passes for 29 yards. Joe Camiliere finished 13-of-20 through the air for 132 yards while also rushing for 29 yards.
Magwood totaled 23 rushing yards on 14 carries to lead the Vikings' ground game. T.D. Conway finished 24-of-43 for 283 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. Dakota Conway hauled in a game-high nine passes for 105 yards and a touchdown.
Robbie Dunn and Charlie Roberts totaled seven tackles apiece to lead Elmhurst's defense in the win. Bennett Detlinger led North Park with 16 tackles in the loss.
Elmhurst will look for its third straight victory next Saturday (November 9) when the Bluejays host Carthage College at Laghorst Field. Kick-off is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.