CHICAGO, Ill. -- A stifling defensive effort propelled the University of Chicago football team to a 20-6 victory in its season opener against Beloit College on Saturday.
The Maroons improved to 1-0 while the Buccaneers fell to 0-1.
On a wet and windy evening, Chicago got things started right from the onset, pinning Beloit at its own four-yard-line on the opening kick. After forcing a quick three-and-out, the Maroons took over in Beloit territory and got on the board first with a 35-yard field goal by Jeff Sauer to make it 3-0.
The next three Beloit drives only resulted in futility. After gaining four yards on the first drive of the game, the Bucs offense was held to negative-2 yards, negative-5 yards and negative-2 yards on its next three possessions.
Neither offense got much going in the first half, with the longest drive going 29 yards. However, Chicago's defense was the catalyst for the game's first touchdown. Defensive lineman Scott Mainquist picked off Beloit quarterback Dillon Hess at the Beloit 18-yard-line, which set up a Dee Brizzolara touchdown run from three yards out. The scamper into the endzone gave the Maroons a 10-0 lead with five minutes left in the half.
Brizzolara got the offense rolling right away in the second half. The senior wide receiver took the opening kickoff 48 yards and into Bucs territory. Chicago ran into fourth down twice during the drive, and converted both times. The first instance was a three-yard run by Zak Ross-Nash on fourth-and-one at the Beloit 37-yard-line. But the next conversion on fourth-and-eight was even more spectacular. Quarterback Kevin Shelton lofted a pass across the middle to tight end Brandon Meckelberg, who caught the ball in space between three defenders and bowled over two more to reach the end zone for a 35-yard touchdown.
The Maroons made the score 20-0 right at the start of the fourth quater. A nine-play drive stalled at Beloit's three-yard-line, but Sauer knocked the ball through the uprights from 22 yards out.
The Bucs broke the shutout on its best drive of the game with five minutes left in the fourth quarter. Backup quarterback Will Coyne drove the team 62 yards and then rushed it in himself from the one-yard-line.
Chicago's defense shined in the final stat tallies, allowing only 146 yards of total offense. The run defense shut down the ground game, only allowing 33 yards on 28 carries. Mainquist and Mychael Gilliam each registered an interception. Alex Dzierbicki led the way with 10 total tackles. Mainquist also registered 1.5 sacks.
The Maroons offense collected 168 rushing yards and 123 passing yards on the night. Running back Ian Gaines rushed 16 times for 81 yards while Ross-Nash also had 16 rushes for 77 yards. Shelton passed 8-for-14 for 123 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Meckelberg ended up with three catches for 69 yards.
Chicago returns to Stagg Field next Saturday for a 6 PM game versus Concordia University Chicago.