LISLE, Ill. - The Benedictine University football team will head to the NCAA Playoffs despite falling in the regular season finale 23-21 at the hands of Wisconsin Lutheran College, stopping a 16-game win streak in Northern Athletics Conference play.
Trailing 23-21 with less than a minute remaining, Benedictine faced a fourth and one at the Wisconsin Lutheran 23-yard line. Matt Brown's pass fell incomplete and the visiting Warriors took a knee to cap the upset victory.
Benedictine scored the first 13 points of the game. The Eagles scored on the first drive of the game, taking advantage of an interception by Stefan Herron to march seven plays. John Borsellino recorded his 22nd touchdown of the season by grabbing a 24-yard strike from Brown. The touchdown established a new single season record.
The longest drive of the year extended the advantage after another interception, this one from Matt McWilliams. 17 plays and 9:23 later, Brown found Schultz on a three-yard score to push the margin to 13-0. The turning point of the contest may have occurred on the extra point as L.J. Stolarski's extra point was blocked and returned by Donavin Tucker for a two-point conversion, pulling Wisconsin Lutheran within 13-2.
After three consecutive punts, Wisconsin Lutheran took advantage of the first Benedictine turnover on just one play. Quarterback Zach Shaw hit Jesse Muldrow on a 34-yard score and then connected with Josh Stodola on a two-point conversion to claw within 13-10 with 3:14 to play in the half.
Another turnover handed the ball back to the Warriors who needed just one more play to jump in front as Muldrow scurried 59 yards for a score with 2:49 to go and Wisconsin Lutheran led 17-13.
Following a scoreless third quarter, Muldrow recorded a three-yard run with 8:28 left in the game to push the margin to two scores at 23-13. Benedictine turned the ball over on downs, but Edwin Davila recovered a fumble and returned the ball into Wisconsin Lutheran territory. A penalty added 15 yards to the end of the play and John Alessi plunged in from a yard out with 4:13 remaining. Ryan Keener scurried in on a fake PAT to convert on a two-point conversion and pulled BenU to within 23-21 before forcing a three and out to set up the final minute drama.
Wisconsin Lutheran overcame five turnover and finished 6-4, 5-2, taking third in the Northern Athletics Conference. The Warriors posted 198 yards rushing and 293 yards total. Muldrow carried 21 times for 138 yards with two touchdowns rushing and three total. All of the Benedictine points came off of turnovers while Wisconsin Lutheran posted 15 off turnovers and two on the blocked PAT.
Benedictine amassed 307 yards with 207 passing and 100 on the ground. Wisconsin Lutheran kept the Eagles in check on the ground as John Borsellino, the national leader in total offense, did not return a kick or punt, and was stymied to a season low 28 yards on 17 carries. The total was still enough to establish a single season school record for rushing yardage and carries. Brown led the offense, totaling 57 yards rushing while posting 207 yards through the air on 24-of-43 attempts with two scores.
The Eagles (7-3, 6-1), who tied for the conference title with Concordia Chicago, await their opponent in the NCAA Playoffs after earning the automatic bid last week. Pairings will be announced on Sunday at 5:00 p.m. Join Benedictine in the CoalBen to watch the selection show. The playoffs open on November 19.