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St. Norbert Trips Spartans in Season Opener

From Asst. AD/Athletics Communications, September 1, 2018 | Football
by Dan Lukes, dan.lukes@snc.edu, (920) 403-4077

DE PERE - St. Norbert College turned in a stellar defensive effort en route to a 16-7 win over Aurora University in a non-conference season opener at Schneider Stadium.

The Green Knights held Aurora to 164 yards of total offense and 1-for-14 on third-down conversions while also scoring a defensive touchdown to key the victory.

Following a scoreless first quarter, Aurora scored on the first scrimmage play in the second period on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Gavin Zimbelman to Connor Olson. The Spartans recovered a fumble on the St. Norbert 27-yard line to set up the score.

The Green Knights answered two series later with a 34-yard field goal by Spenser Thompson-Meyers with 7:31 left in the second quarter. Just 87 seconds later, Matt Gurgone intercepted a Zimbelman pass and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown which would lead to a St. Norbert 10-7 halftime lead.

St. Norbert mounted a nine-play, 50-yard drive on its first third-quarter series before stalling at the Aurora 21. Thompson-Meyers banged home a 38-yard field goal for a 13-7 edge with 9:05 left in the period. Aurora marched to the St. Norbert 19 on its next series, but a personal foul and a strip sack left the Spartans with a rare fourth-and-50 situation from its own 41. A short punt set up the Green Knights near midfield, with Thompson-Meyers' 21-yard field goal with 55 seconds left in the frame giving the host a nine-point edge.

Thompson-Meyers' three field goals gives him a career total of 28, surpassing Randy Hill's previous St. Norbert record of 26 set from 2012-14.

The Green Knights dominated the fourth quarter despite not scoring, holding possession for 11 minutes 47 seconds. St. Norbert turned away Aurora's last-ditch rally midway through the fourth quarter, with Mike Olijnyk forcing a strip sack with a recovery by Nate Essman at the St. Norbert 19 with 7:48 to go. St. Norbert then ran 14 plays to cover 70 yards to melt away the remaining time.

St. Norbert posted 358 yards of total offense, with 240 coming on the ground. Drew Rhodes completed 14 of 22 passes for 118 yards and rushed 26 times for 99 yards. Jadon Sackman rushed 16 times for 87 yards, while Ben Styczynski added 50 yards on 10 carries. Matt Galanopoulos had six catches for 34 yards.

Olijnyk had seven tackles with 3 1/2 tackles-for-loss, while Ben Kornowski had seven tackles and two tackles-for-loss. Gurgone had four tackles, two quarterback sacks and two forced fumbles to go along with his interception.

Aurora, which punted on 10 of its 14 possessions, was led by Zimbelman's 130 yards passing on 13-for-34 marksmanship. Connor Olson had a team-high 57 rushing yards on 15 carries for the Spartans, who had 34 total rushing yards.

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