The Carthage College football team (1-0, 0-0 College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin) opened its 2011 season with a come-from-behind, 16-13 win over Carleton College (0-1) on Saturday, Sept. 3 at Laird Stadium in Northfield, Minn.
Following a scoreless opening period, a botched Carleton snap disrupted Eric Murphy's 21-yard field goal attempt with 11:52 to play in the second quarter. The Red Men took over at their own four-yard line, and their drive ended with a short Chris Schulz punt and a 12-yard return to the Carthage 24-yard line. Five plays later, Carleton quarterback Mike Hartwell hooked up with Conor Lynch on a one-yard touchdown pass to put the Knights up, 7-0, at 8:52. Carleton took a 10-0 lead as time ran in the first half on a 20-yard field goal by Murphy. Murphy's kick capped a 12-play, 51-yard drive. Carthage's offense sputtered in the first half, as the Red Men had no first downs, totaled just 16 total yards and were forced to punt six times.
Trevor Beazley (Sr., Kenton, Ohio) started at quarterback and was spelled by T.J. Trepanier (Jr., Winthrop Harbor, Ill./Zion-Benton Township). Pete Djurickovic (Jr., Pleasant Prairie, Wis./Kenosha-Bradford) made his first collegiate appearance at quarterback in the third period, and that seemed to provide the spark that got Carthage moving. The Red Men got on the scoreboard in the third period on a 28-yard field goal by Kurt Krause (Sr., Arlington Heights, Ill./Buffalo Grove), capping a 14-play, 54-yard drive. On the next Carleton drive, Brad Fortney (Sr., Antioch, Ill./Community) returned an interception 34 yards to the eight-yard line. Djurickovic rushed eight yards for a touchdown on the next play. The two-point conversion failed, and the Red Men trailed, 10-9, at 6:53.
A 28-yard pass from Hartwell to Lynch set up Murphy's second field goal, this one a 21-yarder to extend the Knights' lead to 13-9 as time expired in the third period. The two teams exchanged turnovers early in the fourth quarter. Following a Carthage fumble, cornerback Brian Hipchen (Sr., Arlington Heights, Ill./Hersey) intercepted a Hartwell pass, but the ensuing Red Men drive fizzled out at the Knights' 30-yard line. Carthage took its first lead of the game at 3:53 fourth period on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Djurickovic to Mike Koeneman (Sr., Barrington, Ill./Palatine-Fremd). The scoring strike was set up by 36-yard run by Reggie Miller (So., Downers Grove, Ill./South). Cornerback Marcus Williams (Sr., Lake Villa, Ill./Lakes Community) broke up a Hartwell pass near the goal line at 1:19 to stop Carleton's final drive.
Carthage had 211 total yards, 172 rushing and 39 passing, while Carleton totaled 334 yards, 125 on the ground and 209 in the air. Carthage tailback Reggie Miller rushed for 71 yards on 10 carries, while Marty Dwyer (Sr., Kingston, Ill./Genoa-Kingston) had 49 yards on 15 carries. Carleton totaled 334 yards, 125 on the ground and 209 in the air. Mike Hartwell completed 18-of-30 passes for 209 yards, with Conor Lynch catching four of those for 45 yards.
"We won a football game," said Carthage head coach Tim Rucks, "and you have to be happy about that. I'm not going to use the long bus ride as an excuse for anything. We'll have long trips in the future, and we need to mature-up in that regard. There were no magic words at halftime—we just let the guys play and figure things out in the second half. Pete Djurickovic has that moxie and competitiveness that every coach likes, and I'm glad he's on our side. We needed a jump start in the second half, and he was the guy to do it. I haven't thought about next week's quarterback, but it would hard not to play him. He runs the option game well, and he has the ability to run on his own. We made a lot of big plays, defensively, to keep us in the game. We showed a lot of character on that side of the ball, and this is a good defensive unit. Carleton is well-coached team, but we didn't come to play, offensively, in the first half. We did nothing to keep our defense off the field in that half. We only turned the ball over once, and we were only charged with four penalties, and that was good."
Carthage plays its home-opener on Sept. 10 versus Lakeland College (0-1) in a 7 p.m. game at Art Keller Field.