November 30, 2013

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.

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