Written by News Bulletin News Sources
Wednesday, 02 October 2013 00:00
After the offense turned heads in its first two wins of the 2013 season, the North Central College football team turned to its defense to seal the deal on Saturday, as the Cardinals recorded a historic 27-7 victory over the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point at Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium.
The win was the 100th for head coach John Thorne, who became the second-fastest coach in College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin history to hit triple digits in the victory column.
The Cardinals' defensive unit was tested early and often, but continually found ways to keep Stevens Point (2-1) out of the end zone. The Pointers advanced into North Central territory six times and were turned away on the first five. The Cardinals had built up a 20-point lead before the visitors secured their lone score midway through the fourth period.
"Our game plan was great this week," said North Central linebacker Nick Slezak, who finished with a career-high 14 tackles. "Coach (Mike) Murray did a great job of sending pressure. We all bought into it this week and it showed on the field."
After averaging more than 600 yards of offense in their first two contests, the Cardinals got the game started with a bang by lighting up the scoreboard on the first play from scrimmage. Quarterback Spencer Stanek fired a pass to the left side to wideout Demarco Tillman, who outraced the UWSP defense for a 75-yard touchdown catch.
The Pointers replied with a drive that used 56 yards in 15 plays to the North Central 12-yard line, but turned the ball over on downs. The Cardinals followed with their longest drive of the day, an 18-play, 71-yard jaunt, but came up empty when a 34-yard field goal attempt was off the mark.
The teams traded punts before the Cardinals' defense came up with the first of three interceptions, as linebacker Michael Monterrubio picked off UWSP quarterback Mitch Beau's pass at the North Central 33.
On the ensuing play, Stanek found Chad O'Kane for a 32-yard completion, and after two runs by Zack Pattat, O'Kane came up big again by hauling in a 23-yard TD catch in the front right corner of the end zone. The Cardinals headed into halftime with a 13-0 advantage, owning a 278-166 advantage in total yards.
Monterrubio came up big on the first drive of the second half as well, ending an 11-play, 65-yard Pointer possession by intercepting Beau's pass at the North Central goal line.
The Cardinals were forced to punt on their next possession, but got the ball back three plays later when Connor Douglas intercepted a third-down pass and returned it 36 yards to the Pointer five-yard line. Stanek lofted a TD pass to A.J. Thomas on the next play to extend the Cardinals' lead to 20-0 with 4:43 left in the third period.
North Central's defense forced the Pointers to turn the ball over on downs once again at the Cardinals' 12 early in the fourth quarter, but the visitors broke up the shutout on their next drive after a short punt left UWSP just 32 yards from the goal line. Beau found Logan Taylor for a nine-yard TD pass with 7:56 to play.
North Central opens CCIW play next Saturday at Elmhurst College (1-2). Kickoff at Langhorst Field is scheduled for 2 p.m.
--News Bulletin news sources
Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 October 2013 13:28