Galesburg, IL - The Prairie Fire played inspired football but came up just short against Lake Forest College, losing 31-27 Saturday afternoon on Senior and Parents Day at the Knosher Bowl.
Lake Forest quarterback Pete Scaffidi connected with Austin Sobey for a 28-yard touchdown pass with 1:50 left in the game. The score proved to be the game-winner after the Prairie Fire had overcome a 17 point deficit in the second half.
Sobey led all receivers with seven catches for 129 yards and three TDs.
Prairie Fire sophomore quarterback Drew Diaz (Niles, Illinois) scored on a 16-yard run at the 4:48 mark of the fourth quarter to give Knox its first lead of the game at 27-24. The touchdown capped off 20 straight points by the Prairie Fire (0-9, 0-8 MWC), who trailed 24-7 with less than 6:00 to play in the third quarter.
Lake Forest (3-5, 3-5 MWC) took a 7-0 lead when Scaffidi hit Sobey with an 11-yard touchdown pass with 7:08 to go in the first quarter. Knox tied the game when sophomore tailback Derek Mortensen (Crystal Lake, Illinois) ran for a 6-yard score at the 1:09 mark of the opening frame.
The Foresters outscored Knox 14-0 in the second quarter to take a 21-7 lead at halftime.
Tailback Al Mitchell scored on a 3-yard run with 12:58 to play in the first half followed by a pass from Scaffidi to Sobey from 14-yards out for a score 5:38 before the intermission.
Lake Forest extended its lead to 24-7 with 5:27 left in the third quarter on a 31-yard field goal by Donnie Caldwell.
The Prairie Fire answered back when sophomore Aramis McGinty (Colorado Springs, Colorado) ran back a 71-yard kickoff return to the Lake Forest seven yard line. That set up a 7-yard touchdown run by Mortensen 16 seconds after the LFC field goal to slice the deficit to 24-14.
Diaz scored on a 15-yard run with 12:00 to play in the game to get his team within 24-21.
Mortensen led the Knox rushing attack with 24 carries for 77 yards and a pair of touchdowns while Diaz ran 10 times for 55 yards and two scores. He also completed 13-of-25 passes for 127 yards.
Scaffidi completed 24-of-41 passes for 315 yards and three touchdowns. Mitchell had a big day rushing the football with 24 carries for 172 yards and a score. He had 115 yards on the ground in the first half.
Lake Forest had 28 first downs to 17 for the Prairie Fire. The Foresters outgained Knox in total yards 544-301.
The Prairie Fire was more efficient in the red zone and on third down. LFC scored on four of its seven red zone chances while the Fire was a perfect 4-for-4. Knox converted 7-of-15 third down attempts compared to 4-of-13 for Lake Forest.
Neither team turned the ball over.
Junior linebacker Mike Hendrick (Smithton, Illinois) had a game-high 17 tackles and broke up two passes for Knox. He is one tackle away from tying the season record of 141 set by Tracy Rodgers in the 1991 season.
Prairie Fire senior defensive back David Jewell (Spring Grove, Illinois) added a career-best 15 tackles.
The Fire recognized its 10 seniors on the roster and their parents before the game.
Playing for the last time at the Knosher Bowl were Dan Page (Bradley, Illinois), Jewell, Clarke Cuthbert (Park Ridge, Illinois), Elliot Madison (Holden, Massachusetts), Luke Northam (Colorado Springs, Colorado), Cale Dahm (Lincoln, Illinois), Adam Mize (Wood River, Illinois), Jon Fletcher (Cincinnati, Ohio), Michael Whitt (Aurora, Illinois), and Randy Whitmore (Fulton, Illinois).