Galesburg, IL - Beloit College scored a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns to break open a close game and defeat the Prairie Fire in Midwest Conference play 34-20 Saturday at the Knosher Bowl.
The win by the Buccaneers offset a school record-setting performance by Knox junior linebacker Mike Hendrick (Smithton, Illinois), who entered the game as the leading tackler in the conference -- averaging 14 stops per contest.
Dillon Hess ran in a 4-yard touchdown with 12:09 to play and Raymond Thomas capped off the day's scoring with a 3-yard run as Beloit (1-3, 1-2 MWC) outscored the Prairie Fire 13-0 over the final 15:00 and earned its first win of the season.
The Prairie Fire took a 7-0 lead when sophomore quarterback Drew Diaz (Niles, Illinois) scored on a 5-yard run at the 11:06 mark of the second quarter and junior Doug Lillibridge (Byron, Illinois) connected on the PAT. The lead could have been bigger, but Lillibridge missed a pair of first quarter field goals after Knox drove into the red zone on its first two possessions of the game.
Beloit responded with 9:45 to play in the first half when quarterback Brian Maughn hit wide receiver Derek Carrier with a 55-yard scoring pass to tie the game at 7-7.
Maughn and Carrier hooked up again, this time from 60 yards, with 36 seconds to play in the second quarter to force a 14-14 tie at halftime.
The Prairie Fire outgained the Buccaneers 259-198 in total offense, including 165-39 on the ground, through the first two quarters and had an 11:56 edge in time of possession.
Beloit scored on its first possession of the third quarter when Dan Collins capped an 8-play, 72-yard drive with a 1-yard run to take a 21-14 lead at the 11:17 mark.
The Prairie Fire answered right back less than two minutes later on Mortensen's second TD, a 3-yard run, with 9:24 to play. Lillibridge missed the extra point, allowing Beloit to hold on to a 21-20 lead.
The Buccaneers put the game away in the fourth quarter on the runs by Hess and Thomas. Beloit had 504 total yards -- 306 yards in the second half -- to 440 for Knox, which had 181 over the final two quarters.
Beloit committed two turnovers in the game, one a fumble on the first possession and the other a pass by Maughn that was picked off by junior Nathan Williams (Canton, Illinois).
Diaz completed 17-of-38 passes for 204 yards. He also carried the ball eight times for 64 yards. Senior Luke Northam (Colorado Springs, Colorado) added 53 yards rushing on eight carries as the Fire ground game piled up 236 yards.
Maughn was 23-of-33 for 359 yards and two touchdowns. Carrier caught both of the TD passes and finished with seven catches for 153 yards. Zach Draus led the Beloit run game with eight carries for 71 yards.
Hendrick had the best statistical game of his career. He finished with 26 tackles, a new school record. The previous record of 23 tackles was established by Del Camp in 1968. Hendrick's 12 solo tackles rank second on the all-time list. He already owns the record for unassisted tackles, 14, set last season against Illinois College. Hendrick's 14 assisted tackles against Beloit are the fifth most all-time at Knox.
Two of Hendrick's tackles against the Bucs were for a loss and he also had a sack.