/seasons/2013/contrib/20131123a552j4

North Central Cruises to First-Round Win

More news about: North Central (Ill.)

Pulling back the curtain on its playoff run with a powerful performance, the North Central College football team opened the NCAA Division III Championship on Saturday with a 63-7 conquest of the Albion College (Mich.) Britons at Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium.

The fourth-ranked Cardinals (11-0) move on to next week's second round, which features a home game against the seventh-ranked University of Wisconsin-Platteville (10-1). The Pioneers defeated Concordia University Wisconsin, 54-20, in their first-round contest.

"That's maybe as good as we've played," said North Central head coach John Thorne, "but we know we're going to be tested a whole lot more next week. We've got a whole lot of work to do to get ready for next week's game, but I'm very proud of these guys."

North Central's 557 yards of total offense gave it 5,585 for the season, establishing a new single-season school record. The Cardinals' 506 points this season are just 18 short of the all-time program best.

"We've got a great group of guys up front on the line, and our position players are just outstanding," said senior quarterback Spencer Stanek. "It really helps when you have those kinds of guys to play with, so I'm just really proud of everyone right now."

The hosts' first scoring opportunity was turned away, as the Britons (8-3) stopped a fourth-down conversion attempt on their own three-yard line. The Cardinals, however, got a short field to work with soon thereafter when Alex Tripp intercepted a pass to give North Central the ball back at the 50. Five plays later, Stanek delivered a six-yard touchdown pass to Peter Sorenson, nudging the home team in front, 7-0, with 7:13 on the first-quarter clock. The Cardinals' next drive was highlighted by a 39-yard run from Zack Pattat and a 25-yard run by Stanek beforeRyan Kent scored on a one-yard run to double the lead to 14-0. 

North Central's defensive and special-teams units made their presence felt in the second period. John Focosi sacked Albion quarterback Dominic Bona on third down early in the quarter and forced a fumble, which was recovered by Tripp. Stanek passed to Chad O'Kane for a 22-yard touchdown five plays later. Tripp andBrian Wilson came through with a sack on third down to force a punt on the next drive, and the kick was blocked by Kevin SchroederJason Callahan collected the ball and raced 39 yards for the score, extending the lead to 28-0.

"Our defensive tackles were key in not giving (Bona) chances to escape underneath, and our coverage gave us time to work into our moves and give as much pressure as we did today," said Tripp. "It all came together pretty well."

Schroeder got a hand on a punt on the Britons' next drive as well, and Stanek hitRyne Rezac for a 49-yard TD pass on the next play. The final score of the opening half came with 1:31 to play. After four straight running plays, Stanek found Sorenson for 22-yard score and a 42-0 halftime advantage.

North Central's defense came up big again early in the third period, as Kevin Nalefski intercepted a pass and scored on a 39-yard return. Following an Albion punt, a six-play, 47-yard drive was capped off by Matt Randolph's two-yard TD run. Randolph ran the ball on five of the six plays in the possession, gaining 40 yards.

The Cardinals' Michael Weidner recovered a mishandled Albion punt return at the Britons' 32-yard line to spark the hosts' final scoring drive of the day. North Central ran seven running plays, five of which went to Denzel Thompson, and scored on his eight-yard run with 6:10 to play. Albion's final possession resulted in its lone score, as Bona ran for a two-yard TD with 2:34 to play.

North Central gained a season-high 372 rushing yards, led by Zack Pattat's 103 yards on just four carries, while Kent gained 81 yards on 14 attempts. Stanek completed 11 of 17 passes for 185 yards while also running five times for 60 yards, and Rezac (70 yards) and O'Kane (68) each caught four passes.

The Cardinals' defense, which forced four turnovers and limited Albion to 258 yards, got eight tackles each from Wilson and Tripp. Weidner also blocked a punt in the game. North Central kicker Nick Dace connected on nine extra-point attempts, giving him 62 on the season to break his own single-season school record.

North Central kicks off against UW-Platteville at noon on Saturday.

Aug. 31: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Moravian at King's
7:00 PM
Methodist at Campbell
7:00 PM
Alfred State at Coast Guard
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Allegheny at Thiel
7:00 PM
Stevenson at Frostburg State
7:00 PM
Wesley at Delaware Valley
7:00 PM
Mayville St. at Buena Vista
7:30 PM
Manchester at Trine
Video Live Stats
8:00 PM
McMurry at Okla. Panhandle
8:00 PM
Millsaps at Belhaven
8:00 PM
Greenville at Millikin
Sep. 1: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Salisbury at Albright
7:00 PM
Mount Ida at Mass-Dartmouth
7:00 PM
Fitchburg State at Curry
7:00 PM
Johns Hopkins at Washington and Lee
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
FDU-Florham at TCNJ
7:00 PM
MIT at Becker
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Westfield State at Nichols
7:30 PM
Anna Maria at WPI
Video Live Stats
7:30 PM
Gettysburg at Bridgewater
Sep. 2: All times Eastern
12:00 PM
Grove City at Juniata
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Framingham State at Endicott
Video Live Stats
12:00 PM
Worcester State at Salve Regina
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Maine Maritime at SUNY-Maritime
12:00 PM
Norwich at Morrisville State
12:00 PM
Bethany at Ursinus
Video Live Stats
12:00 PM
Brockport at Hobart
12:00 PM
Augustana at Cortland
12:00 PM
Bridgewater State at Buffalo State
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Carnegie Mellon at Washington U.
Video Live Stats Live Stats
12:30 PM
N.C. Wesleyan at Mount Union
Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
Wilkes at Muhlenberg
1:00 PM
Kalamazoo at Oberlin
Video Live Stats
1:00 PM
Catholic at McDaniel
1:00 PM
Heidelberg at Olivet
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Franklin and Marshall at Lebanon Valley
1:00 PM
Alma at St. Vincent
1:00 PM
Castleton at Plymouth State
1:00 PM
Lycoming at Susquehanna
1:00 PM
UW-Oshkosh at John Carroll
Video Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
Alfred at Ithaca
1:00 PM
Misericordia at Merchant Marine
Video Live Stats
1:00 PM
Albion at Wabash
Video Live Stats
1:00 PM
Dickinson at Randolph-Macon
Video
1:00 PM
Bluffton at Wooster
Video Live Stats
1:00 PM
Union at Husson
Video Live Stats
1:00 PM
Springfield at Western New England
1:00 PM
Wittenberg at Westminster (Pa.)
1:00 PM
St. John Fisher at Washington and Jefferson
1:00 PM
Ferrum at Emory and Henry
Video Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
Averett at Hampden-Sydney
1:00 PM
Berry at Maryville (Tenn.)
Video Live Stats
1:00 PM
Waynesburg at Muskingum
Live Stats
1:00 PM
William Paterson at RPI
1:00 PM
Franklin at Thomas More
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Greensboro at Apprentice
1:00 PM
Case Western Reserve at Chicago
Video Live Stats
1:00 PM
Kenyon at Sewanee
1:30 PM
Centre at Hanover
1:30 PM
Mount St. Joseph at Capital
Video Live Stats
1:30 PM
Baldwin Wallace at Defiance
Live Stats
1:30 PM
Earlham at Wilmington
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Birmingham-Southern at LaGrange
Video Live Stats Audio
2:00 PM
St. Norbert at UW-Stevens Point
2:00 PM
Carthage at Aurora
2:00 PM
Hope at Monmouth
Audio
2:00 PM
Guilford at Huntingdon
2:00 PM
UW-Stout at Simpson
2:00 PM
Concordia-Moorhead at Nebraska Wesleyan
2:00 PM
Rockford at MacMurray
2:00 PM
Finlandia at Concordia (Wis.)
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
St. Scholastica at St. John's
Video Live Stats Audio
2:00 PM
Dubuque at Bethel
2:00 PM
Westminster (Mo.) at Gustavus Adolphus
2:00 PM
Macalester at Carleton
2:00 PM
Grinnell at St. Olaf
2:00 PM
Hamline at Crown
2:00 PM
UW-Whitewater at Illinois Wesleyan
2:00 PM
Whitworth at Central
2:00 PM
Coe at UW-River Falls
2:00 PM
Loras at Elmhurst
2:00 PM
Concordia-Chicago at Ripon
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
Presentation at Lawrence
2:00 PM
George Fox at UW-Platteville
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Lake Forest at Beloit
2:10 PM
UW-Eau Claire at St. Thomas
Live Stats Audio
3:00 PM
Austin at Bacone
4:00 PM
Puget Sound at La Verne
5:00 PM
Western Connecticut at Hartwick
6:00 PM
Ohio Northern at Adrian
Live Stats Audio
6:00 PM
North Park at Anderson
7:00 PM
Christopher Newport at Southern Virginia
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Brevard at Davidson
7:00 PM
Gallaudet at Shenandoah
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Otterbein at Ohio Wesleyan
7:00 PM
Marietta at Geneva
7:00 PM
Widener at Rowan
7:00 PM
St. Lawrence at Utica
7:00 PM
Southwestern at Denison
7:00 PM
Martin Luther at Minnesota-Morris
7:00 PM
Carroll at Lakeland
7:00 PM
Rose-Hulman at Illinois College
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Trinity Int'l at Wisconsin Lutheran
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Sul Ross State at Texas-Permian Basin
7:00 PM
Luther at UW-La Crosse
7:00 PM
Wayland Baptist at Louisiana College
8:00 PM
Knox at Eureka
Video Live Stats
8:00 PM
Northwestern (Minn.) at Augsburg
8:00 PM
Iowa Wesleyan at Cornell
8:00 PM
Robert Morris-Chicago at North Central (Ill.)
8:00 PM
Wheaton (Ill.) at Benedictine
8:00 PM
Lyon at Hendrix
8:00 PM
Howard Payne at Southwestern Assemblies
10:00 PM
Trinity (Texas) at Redlands
10:00 PM
Rhodes at Willamette
Live Stats
Maintenance in progress.