Fire Drops Homecoming Game to IC

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Galesburg, IL - Illinois College had a big day running the football and defeated the Prairie Fire 46-19 in the Homecoming game Saturday afternoon at the Knosher Bowl.

The Blueboys (6-1, 5-1 MWC) scored a touchdown with 8:50 to play in the first quarter on a big play by the special teams unit.  IC blocked a punt by junior Doug Lillibridge (Byron, Illinois) that Aaron Walker scooped up in the end zone for a 7-0 lead.

Knox (0-7, 0-6 MWC) drove to the Illinois College 3 yard line on its next possession but couldn't turn the 13-play, 59 yard drive that took over seven minutes off the clock into points, and IC took over on downs.

Illinois College running back Cecil Brimmage broke loose for a 97-yard touchdown run on the first play of the drive at the 1:22 mark of the first quarter for a 14-0 advantage.

IC increased its lead to 21-0 when Matt Williamson scored on a 1-yard run with 14:28 to play in the second quarter.

The Prairie Fire (0-7, 0-6 MWC) got on the board when sophomore quarterback Drew Diaz (Niles, Illinois) rushed for a 6-yard touchdown.  Lillibridge connected on the extra point attempt to cut the deficit to 21-7 with 10:53 left in the half.

Illinois College's Matt Newman booted a 27-yard field goal at the 5:48 mark after a Knox fumble for a 24-7 lead.  The IC defense then picked off a Diaz pass and turned that miscue into points. 

Williamson capped off an 8-play, 32-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown run to put the Blueboys on top 31-7.

Knox sliced the IC lead to 31-13 with 25 seconds left in the first half on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Diaz to senior wide receiver Clarke Cuthbert (Oak Park, Illinois).  Lillibridge missed the PAT and IC maintained an 18 point lead at halftime.

Diaz scored the only points in the third quarter with 12:02 to go on a 3-yard touchdown run to trim the Blueboy advantage to 31-19 after the extra point attempt by Lillibridge sailed wide.

Illinois College shut Knox out the rest of the way while scoring 15 points in the final quarter to seal the victory. 

Ryan Jefferson ran for an 11-yard touchdown and added a two-point conversion run with 8:39 to play in the game.  He rushed for a 2-yard touchdown with 56 seconds to play and Newman made the extra point attempt to close out the game's scoring.

Newman was 5-for-5 on extra point kicks.
Illinois College had 25 first downs to Knox's 18.  The Prairie Fire was 4-of-18 on third down conversions.

IC gained 493 total yards of offense, including 312 on the ground – a season high.  The Blueboys entered the game averaging 160 rushing yards.  Brimmage led the IC with nine carries for 148 yards.

Illinois College quarterback Michael Bates was 17-of-35 passing for 181 yards and he was picked off once by Knox senior defensive back Adam Mize (Wood River, Illinois).

Knox gained 317 total yards, 158 of them on the ground.

Sophomore tailback Derek Mortensen had 103 yards rushing on 22 carries, the second time he's gone over 100 this season.  Diaz ran for 18 yards and completed 17-of-38 passes for 159 yards.  He was intercepted twice by IC.  Cuthbert had a team-high five receptions and 72 yards.

Junior linebacker Mike Hendrick (Smithton, Illinois) made 18 tackles and sacked Bates twice.   He's the leading tackler in the Midwest Conference with 113, an average of 16 a game.