November 23, 2013

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.

Sep. 1: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Coast Guard at Anna Maria
7:00 PM
Defiance at Baldwin Wallace
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Washington and Lee at Johns Hopkins
7:30 PM
Trine at Manchester
8:00 PM
Millsaps at Belhaven
Sep. 2: All times Eastern
TBA
Muhlenberg at Wilkes
6:00 PM
Mass-Dartmouth at Mount Ida
6:00 PM
Delaware Valley at Wesley
7:00 PM
N.C. Wesleyan at Stevenson
7:00 PM
Western New England at Springfield
7:00 PM
Fitchburg State at Becker
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Albright at Salisbury
7:00 PM
WPI at MIT
7:00 PM
Salve Regina at Worcester State
7:00 PM
Bridgewater State at Curry
7:00 PM
Morrisville State at St. Lawrence
10:00 PM
Adrian at Pacific
Sep. 3: All times Eastern
TBA
Endicott at Framingham State
TBA
Kean at Christopher Newport
TBA
King's at Moravian
Live Stats
TBA
Lebanon Valley at Franklin and Marshall
TBA
Marietta at Denison
TBA
McDaniel at Catholic
TBA
Wisconsin Lutheran at Trinity Int'l
TBA
Sewanee at Kenyon
TBA
UW-Platteville at George Fox
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Washington U. at Carnegie Mellon
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Chicago at Case Western Reserve
12:00 PM
Husson at Alfred
12:00 PM
SUNY-Maritime at Maine Maritime
Video
12:00 PM
Cortland at Heidelberg
12:00 PM
Otterbein at Buffalo State
12:00 PM
Ursinus at Bethany
1:00 PM
Plymouth State at Castleton
Live Stats
1:00 PM
RPI at Norwich
1:00 PM
Randolph-Macon at Dickinson
1:00 PM
Oberlin at Kalamazoo
1:00 PM
Emory and Henry at Ferrum
1:00 PM
Wooster at Washington and Jefferson
1:00 PM
Alfred State at William Paterson
1:00 PM
St. Vincent at Alma
1:00 PM
Concordia (Wis.) at Finlandia
1:00 PM
Olivet at St. John Fisher
1:00 PM
Rowan at Widener
1:00 PM
Hobart at Brockport
1:00 PM
Union at Ithaca
1:00 PM
Susquehanna at Lycoming
1:00 PM
Utica at Misericordia
1:00 PM
The Apprentice School at Methodist
1:00 PM
TCNJ at UW-Whitewater
1:30 PM
Wilmington at Bluffton
1:30 PM
Monmouth at Hope
1:30 PM
Bridgewater at Gettysburg
1:30 PM
Muskingum at Waynesburg
1:30 PM
Juniata at Grove City
2:00 PM
Lakeland at Carroll
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
UW-Stevens Point at St. Norbert
2:00 PM
Austin at Hendrix
2:00 PM
Maranatha Baptist at Martin Luther
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Millikin at Greenville
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Eureka at Knox
Live Stats
2:00 PM
MacMurray at Rockford
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Gustavus Adolphus at Westminster (Mo.)
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
UW-La Crosse at Luther
2:00 PM
Beloit at Lake Forest
2:00 PM
Concordia-Moorhead at Jamestown
2:00 PM
Crown at Hamline
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Carleton at Macalester
2:00 PM
Bethel at Dubuque
2:00 PM
St. Scholastica at St. John's
Live Stats
2:00 PM
St. Olaf at Grinnell
2:00 PM
Buena Vista at Mayville St.
2:00 PM
Simpson at UW-Stout
2:00 PM
Aurora at Carthage
2:00 PM
UW-River Falls at Coe
2:00 PM
Ripon at Concordia-Chicago
2:00 PM
Elmhurst at Loras
2:00 PM
Huntingdon at Louisiana College
2:00 PM
North Central (Ill.) at Robert Morris-Chicago
2:00 PM
Benedictine at Wheaton (Ill.)
2:00 PM
John Carroll at UW-Oshkosh
2:30 PM
Southern Virginia at Earlham
Live Stats
2:30 PM
Lawrence at Presentation
4:00 PM
La Verne at Puget Sound
Live Stats
4:00 PM
Central at Whitworth
5:00 PM
Hartwick at Western Connecticut
6:00 PM
Wabash at Albion
6:00 PM
Maryville (Tenn.) at Berry
6:00 PM
Augustana at Mount St. Joseph
6:00 PM
Thomas More at Franklin
Live Stats
6:00 PM
Hampden-Sydney at Averett
6:00 PM
Redlands at Trinity (Texas)
7:00 PM
Hiram at Westminster (Pa.)
7:00 PM
Thiel at Allegheny
7:00 PM
Capital at Wittenberg
7:00 PM
Shenandoah at Gallaudet
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Illinois College at Rose-Hulman
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Hanover at Centre
7:00 PM
Geneva at Frostburg State
7:00 PM
Nichols at Westfield State
7:00 PM
Greensboro at Guilford
Live Stats
7:00 PM
LaGrange at Birmingham-Southern
7:00 PM
Hardin-Simmons at Southwestern
7:00 PM
Anderson at North Park
7:00 PM
Ohio Wesleyan at Mary Hardin-Baylor
7:00 PM
East Texas Baptist at Texas Lutheran
7:10 PM
St. Thomas at UW-Eau Claire
Video Live Stats
8:00 PM
Willamette at Rhodes
8:00 PM
Cornell at Iowa Wesleyan
Live Stats
8:00 PM
Augsburg at Northwestern (Minn.)
Live Stats
8:00 PM
Southwestern Assemblies at Howard Payne
8:00 PM
Sul Ross State at UT-Permian Basin
Dec. 18: All times Eastern
Final
Mount Union 49, at St. Thomas 35
@ Salem, Va.
Box Score Recap Recap Photos