RIPON, Wis. - St. Norbert College clinched a share of its 13th Midwest Conference football championship since joining the league in 1984 with a sound 37-13 win over Ripon College at Ingalls Field.
The Green Knights currently sit at 6-3 overall and are alone in first place in the MWC at 6-2. Five teams are tied for second at 5-3 - Ripon, Monmouth, Grinnell, Illinois College and Carroll. St. Norbert needs to beat Lake Forest College at Schneider Stadium next Saturday to clinch an outright championship and a berth into the NCAA Division III Playoffs for the first time since 2007.
St. Norbert scored the game's final 30 points after trailing 13-7 early in the second quarter. Rob Berger hit Logan Krueger on a 29-yard touchdown pass with 10 minutes 57 seconds left before halftime for a 14-13 lead. Berger then found John Weninger on an 8-yard strike at the 5:38 mark for a 21-13 lead going into halftime.
The Green Knights then opened the second half with a 49-yard kickoff return by Dan Sjoquist, and then trudged 26 yards in 12 plays to score on a 20-yard field goal by Roger Nault.
St. Norbert scored on its two fourth-quarter possessions - with Berger finding Krueger on a 6-yard touchdown and Weninger carried it in from nine yards out to seal the win.
The Green Knights scored on all six of their possessions that did not end a half. Neither team punted in the game, as Ripon had two drives end on interceptions, two on downs and one on a missed field goal. St. Norbert had eight possessions and Ripon had seven, and had the ball just three times in the second half.
Berger orchestrated the St. Norbert offense by completing 15 of 18 passes for three touchdowns with no interceptions and 258 yards. Berger added 63 rushing yards on 14 carries. Weninger rushed 18 times for 77 yards and two touchdowns.
Krueger caught five passes for 128 yards and two scores, while Joe Green hauled in five passes for 79 yards.
St. Norbert held Ripon's option offense to 236 yards rushing on 58 carries, with quarterback Jake Marshall rushing 23 times for 95 yards. Marshall completed 7 of 12 passes for 70 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions.
Kyle Ripley and John Troyer led the St. Norbert defense with 10 tackles apiece, and Austin Arts corralled both interceptions.
St. Norbert outgained Ripon 407-306 despite Ripon running 70 plays to St. Norbert's 54. The Green Knights were 3-for-8 on third-down conversions but cashed in on all three fourth-down chances to move their season total to 14-for-24 on fourth down.