Benedictine Continues Non-Con Slate Saturday Night at North Park
The Benedictine University football team returns to the field for the first time in over a week on Saturday night in Chicago with a non-conference road game against North Park University.
North Park is the second consecutive opponent from the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW) after Benedictine opened the year with a Thursday trek to 15th ranked Wheaton. Wheaton, who missed the NCAA Playoffs last season, was picked to finish second in the conference and posted a 48-7 win over the Eagles in the season opener. North Park has been picked to finish eighth and hasn't won a game in the CCIW since 2000 but went 3-0 in the non-conference season last year.
The Vikings have beaten Benedictine in back-to-back seasons, the same two seasons in which Benedictine has reached the NCAA Playoffs for the first time. The contest marks the home opener for North Park, who suffered a 42-24 loss at Hope to open the season last Saturday. North Park holds a 13-12-1 record against Benedictine headed into Saturday's 26th meeting between the two Chicago area schools.
North Park never led in the loss to Hope, who won seven games last season but finished second in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA). The Vikings rolled up 261 yards on the ground with its option attack. Quarterback Tyler Krebs finished with 91 yards rushing on 13 carries while also completing nine passes for 70 yards with a pair of touchdowns to John Barnabee.
Wheaton used a big kickoff return to setup a score on the first drive of the game, setting the tone and never trailing in its win over Benedictine. Cyle Schultz scored the lone Eagle touchdown on a four-yard run with just :36 remaining in the contest. Benedictine totaled just 178 yards of offense in the defeat and only moved the ball onto the Wheaton side three times when starting in its own half.
John Borsellino was limited to just 18 yards on 16 carries while also snaring five passes for 25 yards in the season opening defeat. An AFCA All-American as an all-purpose player last year, Borsellino did rack up 123 yards in returns for 166 total yards. Schultz completed 16-of-29 passes for 127 yards. Eight completions went to his brother, Chris, for 60 yards. Ryan Stec posted 10 tackles as the defense finished +1 in turnover margin and blocked two kicks, both by Stefan Herron, who also forced a fumble.
Last season, North Park handed Benedictine its first loss of the season with a 38-20 win at The Sports Complex. The Vikings rushed for 377 yards on 54 attempts. Benedictine never led as North Park returned the opening kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown. The Eagles immediately answered with a quick drive, scoring on a 29-yard run by Borsellino but missed the extra point. North Park netted a field goal to extend the lead to 10-6 before scoring three consecutive rushing touchdowns in the second quarter to jump ahead 31-6.
Barnabee gained 162 yards on the ground on just 11 carries while Krebs followed suit with 77 yards and a score. The lone completed pass covered 53 yards from Krebs to Sam Cochiaro. Borsellino carried just 14 times in the defeat, totaling 74 yards with a touchdown.
Benedictine (0-1) finished just 1-2 in the non-conference portion of the slate in 2011 before posting six consecutive wins to open the conference slate and grab hold of the share of another title. The home opener for Benedictine comes on September 15 under the lights against Albion, who won the MIAA last season.