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. 4: All times Eastern
8:00 PM
East Texas Baptist at Tex. A&M-Commerce
Audio
Sep. 5: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Anna Maria at Worcester State
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Western New England at Springfield
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Albright at Kean
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Widener at Rowan
Live Stats Live Stats Audio
7:00 PM
WPI at Curry
Live Stats Live Stats
7:00 PM
Mass-Dartmouth at Mount Ida
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Salve Regina at Bridgewater State
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
William Paterson at SUNY-Maritime
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Ursinus at TCNJ
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Fitchburg State at Becker
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Nichols at Westfield State
Live Stats Video
7:30 PM
McDaniel at Catholic
Live Stats
7:30 PM
Trine at Manchester
Live Stats Live Stats Audio Audio
8:00 PM
Waldorf at UW-Whitewater
Live Stats
Sep. 6: All times Eastern
12:00 PM
Endicott at Framingham State
Live Stats Video
12:00 PM
Dickinson at Hobart
Live Stats Video Audio
12:00 PM
Holland College (PEI, Canada) at Maine Maritime
Video
12:00 PM
Otterbein at St. John Fisher
Live Stats Audio
12:00 PM
Union at Ithaca
12:00 PM
Pomona-Pitzer at MIT
Preview Video
12:00 PM
Husson at Alfred
Video
12:00 PM
Randolph-Macon at Johns Hopkins
Live Stats Video
12:00 PM
Cortland State at Buffalo State
Live Stats
1:00 PM
St. Lawrence at Coast Guard
Video
1:00 PM
Thomas More at Wesley
Live Stats Audio Audio
1:00 PM
Plymouth State at Castleton State
Live Stats Video
1:00 PM
Lebanon Valley at Franklin and Marshall
Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
Emory and Henry at Ferrum
Audio
1:00 PM
Washington and Lee at Averett
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Hampden-Sydney at Wabash
Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
Rose-Hulman at Kalamazoo
Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
Wilmington at Olivet
Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
King's at Moravian
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Alfred State at Morrisville State
Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
Susquehanna at Lycoming
Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
Oberlin at Brockport State
1:00 PM
Utica at Misericordia
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Delaware Valley at Montclair State
Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
Southern Virginia at Methodist
Live Stats Video
1:00 PM
Marietta at Kenyon
1:00 PM
Merchant Marine at Apprentice
1:00 PM
Muhlenberg at Wilkes
Live Stats Video
1:00 PM
Sewanee at DePauw
Live Stats Video Audio
1:30 PM
Ohio Wesleyan at Bluffton
Live Stats
1:30 PM
Adrian at Defiance
Live Stats Video Audio
1:30 PM
RPI at Norwich
Live Stats Video
1:30 PM
Alma at Heidelberg
1:30 PM
Berry at Maryville (Tenn.)
Live Stats Video Audio
1:30 PM
Bridgewater (Va.) at Gettysburg
Video Audio
1:30 PM
Muskingum at Waynesburg
Audio
1:30 PM
St. Vincent at John Carroll
1:30 PM
Mount Union at Bethany
Live Stats Video
1:30 PM
Juniata at Grove City
Live Stats Audio
2:00 PM
Franklin at Illinois Wesleyan
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
Rhodes at Austin
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Carleton at Macalester
Live Stats Video Audio
2:00 PM
UW-Platteville at Buena Vista
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
Ohio Northern at Washington U.
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
UW-River Falls at St. John's
Live Stats Video Audio
2:00 PM
Crown at Gustavus Adolphus
2:00 PM
Concordia-Moorhead at Jamestown
2:00 PM
Simpson at Iowa Wesleyan
2:00 PM
Hope at Monmouth
Preview Live Stats Video Audio
2:00 PM
Lawrence at Rockford
2:00 PM
Carroll at Lakeland
2:00 PM
Elmhurst at Loras
2:00 PM
Millikin at Greenville
Audio
2:00 PM
Coe at Wheaton (Ill.)
2:00 PM
Presentation at Luther
Video
2:00 PM
Martin Luther at Maranatha Baptist
Video
2:00 PM
MacMurray at Culver-Stockton
2:00 PM
Eureka at Knox
2:00 PM
UW-Stout at Dakota Wesleyan
2:00 PM
Huntingdon at Louisiana College
Video
2:00 PM
Ripon at St. Scholastica
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Hendrix at Westminster (Mo.)
Video
2:10 PM
UW-Eau Claire at St. Thomas
Audio Audio
3:00 PM
St. Norbert at Carthage
Live Stats Video
4:00 PM
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at Puget Sound
4:00 PM
Lewis and Clark at Whitworth
Live Stats Video
4:00 PM
College of Idaho at Pacific
Live Stats Video Audio
4:30 PM
Arizona Christian at George Fox
5:00 PM
Hartwick at Western Connecticut
6:00 PM
Salisbury at Christopher Newport
6:00 PM
Augustana at Mount St. Joseph
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Carnegie Mellon at Case Western Reserve
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Stevenson at N.C. Wesleyan
Live Stats Video Audio
7:00 PM
Butler at Wittenberg
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Shenandoah at Gallaudet
Preview Live Stats Audio
7:00 PM
Wooster at Washington and Jefferson
Live Stats Video Audio
7:00 PM
Geneva at Frostburg State
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Thiel at Allegheny
7:00 PM
Taylor (Ind.) at Anderson
Live Stats Audio
7:00 PM
Hiram at Westminster (Pa.)
7:00 PM
Denison at Earlham
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Greensboro at Guilford
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Aurora at Illinois College
7:00 PM
Albion at UW-Stevens Point
Live Stats Video Audio
7:00 PM
Concordia (Wis.) at North Park
7:00 PM
Beloit at Chicago
Live Stats
7:00 PM
LaGrange at Birmingham-Southern
7:00 PM
Howard Payne at Trinity (Texas)
Audio
7:00 PM
Mary Hardin-Baylor at Millsaps
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Sul Ross State at Texas Lutheran
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Robert Morris-Chicago at UW-Oshkosh
7:00 PM
UW-La Crosse at Dubuque
Live Stats Video
7:30 PM
Hanover at Centre
Video
7:30 PM
Central at Benedictine
Live Stats Video Audio
8:00 PM
St. Olaf at Northwestern (Minn.)
8:00 PM
Hamline at Minnesota-Morris
8:00 PM
Lake Forest at Wisconsin Lutheran
Live Stats Audio
8:00 PM
Wartburg at Augsburg
Live Stats Video Audio Audio
8:00 PM
Hardin-Simmons at Southwestern
Preview Live Stats Video Audio
Dec. 20: All times Eastern
Final
at UW-Whitewater 52, Mount Union 14
@ Salem Stadium; Salem, Va.
Recap Photos Photos
Dec. 14: All times Eastern
Final
UW-Whitewater 16, at Mary Hardin-Baylor 15
Recap Recap Photos
Final
at Mount Union 41, North Central (Ill.) 40
Box Score Recap Recap Photos

What We're Reading