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St. Norbert Survives Wild Ending at North Park

From Sports Information Director, September 12, 2015 | Football
by Dan Lukes,, (920) 403-4077

CHICAGO - St. Norbert College survived a wild fourth-quarter rally by North Park University, but the Green Knights had a late comeback of their own to post a pulsating 41-31 non-conference win over the Vikings at the Holmgren Family Complex.

The Green Knights (2-0) saw a 28-10 lead melt away down the stretch, but still held a 28-24 lead just inside two minutes remaining. St. Norbert was poised to salt the game away with the ball on North Park 1-yard line, but a fumble and a 99-yard return by Matt Difecchio put the host up 31-28 with 1 minute 45 seconds remaining.

St. Norbert took over at its own 34 on the ensuing kickoff, and had to convert two fourth-down opportunities to get into North Park territory. The second was a 20-yard pass from Jack Becker to Matt Freeman on fourth-and-9 from the St. Norbert 45. After a spike to stop the clock, Becker hit Brett Olson for 28 yards top the North Park 7 with 31 seconds left. A three-yard run by Brad Boockmeier set up a four-yard touchdown pass on a screen from Becker to Boockmeier with 22 seconds remaining and a 35-31 lead.

On the final play of the game, North Park quarterback T.D. Conway's pass was tipped and intercepted by Tyler Jensen, whose 50-yard return as time expired was the game's final points. The play sealed the first 2-0 start for head coach Dan McCarty, the first time a first-year St. Norbert football coach has begun 2-0 since Tom Hearden in 1946.

St. Norbert scored on its opening possession of the game for the second consecutive week, with Boockmeier rushing in from 12 yards out just 4:51 into the game. North Park answered on its next series with a 13-play, 75-yard drive finished by a 9-yard touchdown pass from Conway to Devin Childress.

The Green Knights scored touchdowns on their first two possessions of the second quarter to build a 21-7 lead. Elijah Fort had runs of 8 and 5 yards, the latter on a fourth-and-2 situation. North Park cut the deficit to 21-10 at halftime on Noah Moore's 25-yard field goal just 18 seconds before intermission.

St. Norbert took the opening possession of the second half and scored to take a 28-10 lead, with Fort rushing for his third touchdown of the game, this one from 12 yards out at the 11:40 mark. North Park got back into the game with a quick six-play, 75-yard drive, with Conway finding Anthony Burton for a 13-yard touchdown with 9:05 left in the third quarter.

North Park inched to within 28-24 at the start of the fourth quarter, chewing up 6:09 off the clock on a 15-play, 80-yard drive. Conway completed a pass on fourth-and-goal from the St. Norbert 1 to find Kvonte Spearman with 8:52 remaining for the touchdown.

St. Norbert held a commanding 446-276 advantage in total offense, with 28 first downs and 211 net yards rushing. Boockmeier totaled 127 yards on 26 carries and one touchdown, while Fort had 11 carries for 78 yards and three touchdowns. Becker completed 20 of 28 passes for 235 yards and one touchdown. Zach Reeves caught nine passes for 77 yards.

Conway completed 28 of 47 passes for 238 yards and three touchdowns and one interception. Burton caught six passes for 100 yards and a touchdown. North Park totaled 38 net yards rushing.

St. Norbert held the time of possession edge 36:35-23:25, and also converted all four of its fourth-down opportunities.