The Prairie Fire got off to a good start, but Carroll University responded and won 30-8 Saturday night at Schneider Stadium in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
Knox (0-8, 0-7 MWC) struck first when sophomore Derek Mortensen (Crystal Lake, Illinois) scored on a 2-yard run with 13:42 to play in the second quarter. Carroll (6-2, 5-2 MWC) returned a blocked extra point to make it a 6-2 score.
The Pioneers took the lead at 9-6 on a 1-yard run by Joe Beckstrand at the 12:20 mark of the first half. Carroll quarterback Ryan Young found Tyler Ostrander less than five minutes later to extend the lead to 16-6.
The Prairie Fire cut the deficit to one possession at 16-8 on a sack and safety by sophomore defensive lineman Steve Bora (Northfield, Illinois) with 7:45 to play in the third quarter.
Carroll didn't allow Knox to score again while Beckstrand added touchdown runs of 23-yards and 13-yards late in the third quarter and early in the fourth for the final points of the game.
The Prairie Fire outgained the Pioneers 357-352, but threw three interceptions. Carroll did not turn the ball over. Knox continued its balanced offensive approach by passing for 184 yards and running for 173. The Pioneers passed for 233 and rushed for 119, led by Beckstrand's 25 carries for 138 yards.
Mortensen led the Knox ground game with 20 carries and 83 yards. Sophomore quarterback Drew Diaz (Niles, Illinois) completed nine passes for 125 yards and threw two interceptions. Junior Mike Pinter (Naples, Florida) also threw a pick while completing four passes for 59 yards.
Junior Dustin Armstrong (Cincinnati, Ohio) had a career-best 111 yards receiving on four catches. Carroll, with one of the top defenses in the Midwest Conference, held Knox to 4-of-17 on third down conversion attempts. The Prairie Fire also managed one score during four trips in the red zone.
Defensively, Knox sacked Carroll five times. Junior Mike Hendrick (Smithton, Illinois) led everyone with 10 tackles, four of them for a loss, and he had two quarterback sacks.