St. Norbert Closes Out Season With Win

From Sports Information Director, November 8, 2008 | Football
by Dan Lukes, dan.lukes@snc.edu, (920) 403-4077

DE PERE - St. Norbert College closed out the 2008 football season in what could be termed an interesting 42-27 Midwest Conference win over Illinois College at Minahan Stadium.

The Green Knights took a 42-27 halftime lead on the Blueboys, and despite a record-setting passing afternoon by the visitors, neither team scored in the second half.

St. Norbert scored touchdowns on its first two plays from scrimmage to take a 14-0 lead on a 27-yard run by A.J. Phillips and a 78-yard touchdown pass from Bryan Stoppenbach to Jeremy Gezella.

Illinois College's D.J. Jackson returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown to cut the deficit to 14-7 with just 2:14 gone by in the game. The Blueboys tied the game at 14-14 on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Mitch Niekamp to Justin Darwent.

St. Norbert would take a 28-14 lead after the first quarter on another 27-yard touchdown run by Phillips and a 1-yard plunge by Joe Brogni.

Illinois College cut the score to 28-20 on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Niekamp to Michael Jennings, but missed the extra point. St. Norbert answered when Phillips took a handoff and threw across the field to hit a wide open Stoppenbach for a 21-yard scoring pass.

Niekamp found Jennings again with 7:23 left in the first half to cut the score to 35-27, but St. Norbert would close out the scoring on a 5-yard run by Phillips with 4:17 left before halftime.

Illinois College would get the ball to the St. Norbert 35 or close on six of its last eight possessions but couldn't score. Niekamp attempted a whopping 74 passes, a Midwest Conference record. He completed 37 for 467 yards - 13 yards short of a Minahan Stadium record - with three touchdowns and two interceptions.

Jennings had a banner day, catching 19 passes for 280 yards - both Midwest Conference records. He also had two touchdowns. The Blueboys registered 478 yards of total offense on 92 plays, but only had 11 net yards rushing.

St. Norbert had 429 yards of total offense with 260 coming on the ground. Phillips had 133 yards rushing on 24 attempts with three touchdowns. Stoppenbach completed 9 of 17 passes for 148 yards and one touchdown with one interception.

Phillips capped off a fine collegiate career as an all-purpose back, netting 302 all-purpose yards. Phillips returned the game's opening kickoff 58 yards to set up the game's first touchdown on the next play.

St. Norbert finished the season 7-3, the tenth consecutive season the Green Knights have posted at least seven wins. Illinois College ended 4-6.