The Red Zone – October 11, 2011 by Craig Burroughs

Out of the Woods?: With yesterday’s announcement by TCU that it will be joining the Big XII Conference next year, instead of its previously announced jump, to the Big East, it looks more and more as if the Big XII has pulled its fat out of the fire and is going to be a very successful 10-team league for the near term. This is really good news to those of us who love the tradition of college football and who despise the idea of 14- and 16-team “super conferences” that are cobbled together solely for the purposes of greed, ego and power. TCU is the perfect school to fill Texas A&M’s spot in the Big XII, and if Mizzou decides it’s too “good” (I really mean “greedy” here) for the Big XII, and if it really thinks it can do better in the SEC, then more power to them. There are other really good schools dying to get into the Big XII, and I think that any school that would rather be in the SEC at this point in history is either kidding itself or very naive. Dividing the pie 14 ways leaves less than dividing it 10 ways, and travel, recruiting and operating expenses are going to go up very rapidly for Texas A&M, and for Missouri if it so desires. Thank you, Big XII, for showing some common sense, sanity and vision in this era of money-sponsored, ego-driven madness in college football!

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Juday, Juday, Juday!: In an amazing display of generosity and hospitality, Kevin Juday, the SID at Elmhurst College, did something I’ve never seen before; he not only hosted two out-of-state D-III teams at Elmhurst’s Langhorst Field, he also agreed to supervise the statistics crew for the first-ever game between the Hiram Terriers and the Macalester Scots despite the fact that his own Blue Jays were playing at the same time just 10 miles away in Wheaton. Hiram was the “home” team in this unusual neutral-site non-conference matchup, which settled on a site almost equidistant from the two campuses to make travel affordable for both teams and their fans, about 400 of whom showed up to cheer on a spectacularly beautiful football Saturday.

The 2-3 Scots got off to a solid start, with long TD drives on their first two possessions. WR Mike Snavely caught a 15-yard pass from Clark Bledsoe to cash in on the 7th snap of Mac’s opening 65-yard charge, and Bledsoe found TE Sam Marshall from 11 yards out to culminate an 83-yard, 12-play sortie that included a 30-yard completion to WR Riley Koval and a 16-yard Bledsoe keeper. The Terriers got back in the game quickly, as RB Chris Austin returned the kickoff 28 yards to the Hiram 38, then ripped off a 23-yard scamper to set up QB George Blake’s 19-yard toss to WR Jeff Schofield at the Mac 5. Austin dashed the final five yards to cut the Hiram deficit to 7, but Mac got the only other score of the 2nd Quarter when Auburn Jimenez hit a 22-yard FG try with 4:14 left before intermission.

After an exchange of punts to open the 2nd Half, Mike Adams gave the Scots excellent field position at the Hiram 43 with his 28-yard return. RB T. Joe Loiselle capped the quick 6-play TD drive with a 1-yard smash, and 3 plays later DB Joe Dykema intercepted a Blake pass and returned it 39 yards to give the Scots a 31-7 lead. While this clearly ended any doubt about the outcome, the Terriers kept battling. DB Tyler Williams was able to cover a Bledsoe fumble with just under six minutes to play, and QB Brandon Hanna, playing injured but forced to fill in for Blake, found WR Richard Simpson for a 27-yard TD with 4:30 on the clock. An on-side kick was unsuccessful and Mac was able to run out the clock to record the 31-14 win and even its record at 3-3. Bledsoe finished with solid stats despite four sacks, going 20-of-31 passing for 239 yards and 2 TD’s, and adding 32 yards rushing on 16 carries. Loiselle was the top rusher for the game with 91 yards on 21 carries, while Koval led all receivers with 8 catches for 83 yards. Hiram LB Oliver Dickerhoof was the defensive star of the game, with 13 solos and 2 assisted tackles.

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Bad Year to be a Viking: I thought when watching Augustana of Rock Island lose its opening game at home to Dubuque that this would just be a temporary setback, with the Vikings turning back to their historic winning ways as new head coach Rob Cushman’s first season progressed. A string of 3 more tough losses followed, however, none by greater than 8 points, and the Vikings limped into Naperville’s Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium Saturday night to face defending CCIW champion North Central College still looking for their first win of 2011. The first half had little to cheer about for Augustana’s offense, which gained only 40 yards on six possessions and recorded only one first down, on a pass interference call. The defense was holding up its end, however, limiting the Cardinals to just 7 points despite giving up 207 yards of offense. NCC was frustrated again in Q3 when an 11-play drive was stymied at the Auggie 17, with the Cardinals settling for a 34-yard Nick Dace field goal to make it 10-0. The Vikings were finally able to mount an offensive spurt before the end of the period, but two plays from the NCC 7 resulted in the loss of a yard, and the frustrated visitors ended up with Brady Rogers’ 25-yard FG to cut the deficit to 10-3 heading into the 4th Quarter.

Two 4th Quarter possessions with the opportunity for Auggie to tie the score ended with punts deep into NCC territory, with the last of these burying the Cardinals at their own 5 with 6:40 still to play and the outcome clearly in doubt. A 24-yard third-and-13 pass from frosh QB Tyler Dicken to WR Chad O’Kane got the home team out of deep trouble, and a 14-yard toss to WR Jeff Stolzenburg on a 3rd-and-9 play drained a couple of precious minutes from the clock. With two minutes left to play the Cardinals gained a 1st Down at the Vikings’ 42, and it felt as though the game would end 10-3 with NCC simply sapping the clock and Augustana absorbing another one-score loss. Dicken, however, had a different script…he called an option left, faked the pitch and tucked the ball in as he raced down the left sideline for a 42-yard score with 80 seconds to play. As it turned out, this was merely the anticlimax of a very wierd football game…QB David Lee’s third pass after the kickoff was picked off by LB Kane Thompson, who managed to find blocks all the way down the left sideline to score on a 70-yard return with just 0:23 on the clock.

The 24-3 final score had to be more than discouraging to the Vikings…they had hung in all night only to see more scored against them in the final 80 seconds than both teams scored in the first 58 minutes and 40 seconds! Clearly the better team had won, with 436 yards of offense to just 163 for the Vikings, and with 22 First Downs to only 6, but the way in which the 21-point spread was achieved was nothing short of bizarre…I had unwittingly picked the final point spread, but my prediction was a 38-17 final score. It looks as if it’s back to the drawing board for Coach Cushman as he keeps seeking his first Vikings’ win in a season which now cannot be a winning season. On the other hand, Coach John Thorne has NCC back on track for another CCIW crown after opening the season with a surprise loss at Redlands. The Cardinals finish the season with three straight home games after tough road challenges at Millikin and Illinois Wesleyan the next two Saturdays.


One Response to “The Red Zone – October 11, 2011 by Craig Burroughs”

  1. Sam B. says:

    I agree… Something must be done about the Conference situation. It doesn’t seem fair to the players or the schools.

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