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Green Knights Hold On Late in Key Win at Chicago

From Asst. AD/Athletics Communications, October 13, 2018 | Football
by Dan Lukes, dan.lukes@snc.edu, (920) 403-4077

CHICAGO - St. Norbert College staved off a furious last-ditch rally by the University of Chicago to hold on by the slimmest of margins, posting a 21-20 victory over the Maroons in a key Midwest Conference North Division game at Stagg Field.

The Green Knights (5-1, 2-0 MWC North) held a 21-7 lead until the Maroons came charging back with two touchdowns in the last six minutes. But Blake Olejniczak blocked the extra-point attempt after the last touchdown with 1:02 remaining, and St. Norbert ran out the clock from there to escape Hyde Park with the hard-fought victory.

The victory was St. Norbert's 200th in the Midwest Conference since joining the league for football in 1984. The Green Knights are now 200-39 all-time in MWC play, with 145 wins in their last 160 conference outings.

St. Norbert scored first after fashioning an impressive 13-play drive that covered 77 yards and melted 6 minutes 41 seconds off the clock. The Green Knights converted three third-down chances in the series, including a 24-yard pass from Drew Rhodes to Samuel Staehling. That play set up Sean Ferraro's 14-yard touchdown run with 2:18 left in the first period and a 7-0 lead.

The Maroons (3-3, 1-1) answered immediately, needing just seven plays to score on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Jeffrey Jackson to Matt Quaglia on the first play of the second quarter. Chicago drove to the St. Norbert 27-yard line midway through the second quarter but stalled on downs. St. Norbert then drove to the Chicago 21 before stalling, with Spenser Thompson-Meyers suffering a rare miss going wide left from 38 yards out to keep the score tied 7-7 going into halftime.

St. Norbert took control in the third quarter, with Judge Krull intercepting Jackson and returning the ball to the Chicago 38. St. Norbert needed three plays to score from 19 yards out on a pass from Rhodes to Matt Galanopoulos with 12:51 left in the period. Three three-and-out series later, St. Norbert took advantage of a short field and needed four plays to traverse 42 yards, scoring on a 25-yard run by Rhodes with 5:26 left in the frame.

The Green Knights couldn't quite put the game away, losing a fumble late in the third quarter at the Chicago 30 and throwing an interception at the Chicago 15 with 8:45 remaining.

Chicago took advantage, going 80 yards in 11 plays to score on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Jackson to Dante Nepa with 5:27 to go to trim the deficit to 21-14. St. Norbert had a penalty on the ensuing kickoff and started from its own nine. The Green Knights couldn't muster a first down, and Chicago took over following the punt on the St. Norbert 43 with 3:06 to go.

After six plays, Chicago faced a fourth-and-18 from the St. Norbert 41, but Jackson hit Nepa for a 22-yard pass to the St. Norbert 19. Three plays later Jackson hit his twin brother, Jacob, on a 19-yard touchdown with 1:02 to play. Chicago seemed poised to force overtime until Olejniczak broke through and got a hand on Mike Kurzydlowski's point-after try to keep St. Norbert up 21-20.

Chicago got the bounce on the onside kick, but St. Norbert recovered after a scrum. The Maroons had only two timeouts remaining, and St. Norbert was able to work the clock down to 3 seconds on fourth down. The Green Knights ran a play on fourth down, with Rhodes throwing a long incomplete pass well out of bounds as time expired.

Chicago outgained St. Norbert 302-292, with 129 of the Maroons' yards coming in the wild fourth quarter. The Green Knights held Chicago to 32 rushing yards, while rushing for 157. Each team committed two turnovers.

Rhodes completed 14 of 20 passes for 135 yards and also rushed 16 times for 65 yards. Brandon Dudley added 37 yards rushing on 12 carries. Galanopoulos had six receptions for 50 yards.

Jeffrey Jackson completed 31 of 57 passes for 270 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Jacob Jackson caught 10 passes for 96 yards, while Nepa caught seven passes for 71 yards.

Ben Kornowski led the St. Norbert defense with 11 tackles and 1 1/2 quarterback sacks. Nate Essman added seven tackles, while Matt Gurgone had six stops and an interception.

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