/seasons/2013/contrib/201311309zf964

North Central Runs Over Platteville, Into Quarterfinals

More news about: North Central (Ill.)

In a game that featured nearly 600 passing yards, it was the running game which turned the tide for the North Central College football team on Saturday, as the Cardinals vanquished the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, 52-24, at Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium to advance to the national quarterfinals for the second time in their history.

Fourth-ranked North Central (12-0) moves on to the round of eight for the first time since 2010 and will face sixth-ranked Bethel University (Minn.) in the quarterfinals.

"Those are two good teams right there," said the Cardinals' head coach, John Thorne. "It really makes it tough for both defenses because both offenses force you to defend the whole field. It was a very, very exciting game. The offense did some great things, and the defense did a lot of great things. We're very excited to be playing a third-round game."

The Cardinals enjoyed a breakout performance from junior running back Ryan Kent, who eluded the Pioneers' defense all day long en route to a career-high 257 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 27 carries. He tied North Central's single-game record for touchdowns and came just three yards short of the school record of 260 yards set by Jeremy Walsh in 2001 and tied by Steve Holden in 2004. Kent's efforts helped the Cardinals turn in a total of 596 offensive yards, their most ever in a postseason contest.

"I think the offensive line did a great job," Kent said. "I think you could drive trucks through some of those holes. We usually go by committee, because we have a lot of great backs, so I was lucky to get the opportunities that I had."

North Central needed only three plays to get into the end zone for the first time, as senior receiver Chad O'Kane got behind the Platteville defense and hauled in a pass from Spencer Stanek. O'Kane raced to the end zone for an 83-yard touchdown, the fourth-longest passing play in the program's history.

The Pioneers (10-2) threatened to tie the score on their first possession, but linebacker Jason Callahan intercepted a pass in the Cardinals' end zone to thwart the visitors' progress.

"That was a huge interception," Thorne said. "That gave us an awful lot of momentum that really continued throughout the rest of the game."

The ensuing North Central drive came to an end on a lost fumble in Pioneer territory, but North Central's defense forced a punt three plays later. Taking over at their own 44-yard line, the hosts got their next drive started with a 33-yard pass toPeter Sorenson, and two plays later, Kent scored his first touchdown on a 14-yard scamper to double North Central's lead to 14-0 with 6:16 still to play in the opening period.

Platteville got on the board with a 37-yard field goal by Zach Litchfield on the next possession, but the Cardinals countered with a 24-yard TD run from Kent to boost their advantage to 21-3 just before the end of the first quarter. The Pioneers found the end zone twice in the second period, but both scores were promptly answered. A three-yard TD run by UWP running back Lee Vlasak was countered after just three plays, as Kent ran up the middle for a 60-yard score with 8:46 before halftime.

Pioneer quarterback John Kelly's first scoring pass of the day, a 20-yard throw to Ryley Bailey, cut the visitors' deficit to 28-17 with 5:33 left in the half, but Stanek engineered a 12-play, 75-yard drive which ate up more than five minutes and culminated in seven-yard TD pass to O'Kane with just 30 seconds on the clock. The Cardinals headed into halftime with a 35-17 advantage, having rolled up 426 yards of total offense.

North Central turned in the first score of the second half, getting a first down on fourth-and-two on Stanek's three-yard shovel pass to Matt Randolph before a 27-yard TD run by Kent. Kelly got the Pioneers into the end zone on the next drive, throwing an eight-yard scoring strike to Bailey with 6:47 on the third-quarter clock.

The Cardinals put together their longest drive of the afternoon shortly after the start of the fourth period, controlling the ball for over seven minutes in a 13-play, 71-yard drive which ended with a 25-yard field goal by Nick Dace. After halting Platteville on fourth down near midfield on the next drive, North Central posted the day's final touchdown on a four-yard pass to O'Kane with 2:46 to play. 

North Central scored on eight of its 10 possessions in the game, including a string of five straight touchdown drives. The Cardinals set single-season school records for touchdowns (76) and points (558).

Stanek completed 19 of 24 passes for 274 yards, giving him 3,048 for the season to make him the second Cardinal quarterback to throw for 3,000 yards in a single campaign. O'Kane hauled in seven passes for a career-high 132 yards and tied North Central's single-game record with three TD receptions, while Kent, who now owns 1,013 rushing yards this sseason, gives the Cardinals a 1,000-yard rusher for the eighth time.

Defensive ends Alex Tripp and John Focosi made regular trips to the Pioneers' backfield, evenly splitting North Central's five quarterback sacks. Tripp finished with 3 1/2 tackles for loss and tied Nick Slezak for the team lead in total tackles (10), while Shane Dierking finished with nine tackles and a career-best four pass breakups.

"It just came down to us digging our heels in and slowing them down," Tripp said. "We just put a stop to what they wanted to do. It wound up working pretty well."

Saturday's game will kickoff at noon. The site of the game will be determined Sunday by the NCAA Division III Football Committee.

Sep. 23: All times Eastern
Final
at Framingham State 50, Massachusetts Maritime 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Muhlenberg 56, at Juniata 40
Video Box Score
Final
at Dean 25, Becker 10
Box Score
Final
Salisbury 27, at TCNJ 7
Box Score
Final
MIT 38, at Catholic 21
Video Box Score
Final
Merchant Marine 56, at Maine Maritime 31
Video Box Score
Final
at Hobart 34, Endicott 17
Video Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Morrisville State 44, Nichols 22
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Delaware Valley 27, Stevenson 7
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Albright 9, Widener 7
Video Box Score
Final
Christopher Newport 16, at Montclair State 8
Video Box Score
Final
at Westminster (Pa.) 41, Bethany 14
Video Box Score
Final
Middlebury 41, at Bowdoin 14
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Williams 24, at Colby 7
Video Box Score
Final
Amherst 36, at Hamilton 6
Video Box Score
Final
Ursinus 35, at Moravian 17
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Trinity (Conn.) 51, at Bates 0
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at LaGrange 38, Brevard 28
Video Box Score
Final
Geneva 33, at Thiel 24
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Plymouth State 37, Mass-Dartmouth 7
Video Box Score
Final
Kean 28, at Southern Virginia 14
Video Box Score
Final
Frostburg State 24, at Rowan 10
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
Union 17, at Curry 14
Video Box Score
Final
at Carnegie Mellon 37, Thomas More 17
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Lycoming 44, at King's 41
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Western New England 21, Husson 14
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Johns Hopkins 41, at Dickinson 10
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at DePauw 51, Wooster 24
Video Video Box Score
Final
at Ohio Wesleyan 37, Allegheny 21
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Misericordia 43, Wilkes 14
Video
Final
at Alfred 45, Rochester 7
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
Wesley 66, at William Paterson 0
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at N.C. Wesleyan 35, Maryville (Tenn.) 25
Video Box Score
Final
Huntingdon 31, at Ferrum 28
Video Video Box Score
Final - OT
at McDaniel 27, Gettysburg 20
Video Video Preview Box Score
Final
at Buffalo State 33, RPI 21
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Franklin and Marshall 27, at Susquehanna 24
Video Box Score
Final
at Denison 45, Oberlin 17
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Northwestern (Minn.) 10, Westminster (Mo.) 7
Video Box Score
Final
at Eureka 44, Crown 20
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Lebanon Valley 24, FDU-Florham 14
Video Box Score
Final
at Heidelberg 47, John Carroll 21
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Ohio Northern 35, Otterbein 7
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Mount Union 55, Baldwin Wallace 7
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Rose-Hulman 37, Defiance 14
Video Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Marietta 49, Muskingum 25
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Franklin 59, at Bluffton 30
Box Score
Final
at Hanover 64, Anderson 21
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Mount St. Joseph 31, at Manchester 14
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
Worcester State 34, at Westfield State 10
Video Box Score
Final
Coast Guard 13, at Norwich 9
Video Box Score
Final
at Fitchburg State 31, Bridgewater State 29
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
Wittenberg 48, at Kenyon 11
Video Box Score
Final
at Wabash 25, Hiram 21
Video Video Box Score
Final
North Central (Ill.) 51, at Millikin 21
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Millsaps 17, Sewanee 13
Video Box Score
Final
at Rhodes 35, Birmingham-Southern 9
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Hendrix 36, Austin 24
Video Box Score
Final
at Martin Luther 34, Greenville 20
Video Box Score Recap
Final - OT
at Trinity (Texas) 41, Chapman 35
Video Preview Box Score Live stats
Final
at Loras 73, Buena Vista 34
Video Video Box Score
Final
at Wartburg 30, Washington U. 20
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Gustavus Adolphus 51, Hamline 7
Video Box Score
Final
Augsburg 48, at Carleton 28
Video Box Score
Final
at Bethel 64, St. Olaf 7
Video Box Score
Final
at Luther 21, Dubuque 17
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Central 52, Nebraska Wesleyan 27
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Simpson 38, at Coe 33
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Wheaton (Ill.) 40, at Elmhurst 15
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
St. Norbert 66, at Grinnell 13
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Knox 13, Ripon 6
Video Box Score
Final
at MacMurray 32, Iowa Wesleyan 14
Video Box Score
Final
Hardin-Simmons 63, at Howard Payne 3
Box Score
Final
Southwestern 37, at Louisiana College 34
Video Box Score
Final
Monmouth 26, at Macalester 0
Video Box Score
Final
at St. Thomas 20, St. John's 17
@ Target Field, Minneapolis
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Springfield 42, WPI 10
Video Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Cornell 55, Beloit 36
Video Box Score
Final
at Brockport 28, Utica 14
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Hartwick 24, St. John Fisher 21
Box Score Recap
Final
at UW-La Crosse 41, Carroll 6
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at St. Scholastica 37, Minnesota-Morris 3
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at George Fox 44, UW-Eau Claire 0
Video Box Score
Final
at Western Connecticut 37, Salve Regina 23
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at UW-Stevens Point 41, Adrian 28
Video Box Score
Final - OT
at Wesleyan 24, Tufts 17
Video Preview Box Score Photos
Final
at Averett 35, Methodist 6
Video Box Score
Final
at Berry 28, Centre 14
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Case Western Reserve 56, Waynesburg 21
Video Box Score
Final
at Grove City 24, St. Vincent 14
Box Score
Final
at Illinois Wesleyan 18, North Park 0
Video
Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 50, Texas Lutheran 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at UW-Platteville 56, Lakeland 22
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Carthage 55, at Augustana 14
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Chicago 28, at Illinois College 7
Video Box Score
Final
at Sul Ross State 35, McMurry 7
Final - OT
at Wilmington 37, Capital 30
Video Preview Box Score Photos
Final
Lake Forest 42, at Lawrence 26
Video Video Box Score Recap
Final
at East Texas Baptist 79, Belhaven 40
Box Score Recap
Final
Arizona Christian 56, at Whittier 38
Video Box Score
Sep. 28: All times Eastern
6:30 PM
Shenandoah at Randolph-Macon
Video Preview Live stats Audio
Sep. 23: All times Eastern
Final
at Delaware Valley 27, Stevenson 7
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
Wesley 66, at William Paterson 0
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Alfred 45, Rochester 7
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
Johns Hopkins 41, at Dickinson 10
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Frostburg State 24, at Rowan 10
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Heidelberg 47, John Carroll 21
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Mount Union 55, Baldwin Wallace 7
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Wittenberg 48, at Kenyon 11
Video Box Score
Final
at Wabash 25, Hiram 21
Video Video Box Score
Final
Hardin-Simmons 63, at Howard Payne 3
Box Score
Final
North Central (Ill.) 51, at Millikin 21
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Wheaton (Ill.) 40, at Elmhurst 15
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at St. Thomas 20, St. John's 17
@ Target Field, Minneapolis
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Brockport 28, Utica 14
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Case Western Reserve 56, Waynesburg 21
Video Box Score
Final
at Illinois Wesleyan 18, North Park 0
Video
Final
at UW-Platteville 56, Lakeland 22
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 50, Texas Lutheran 7
Video Box Score Recap