The Carthage College football team (2-1, 0-0 College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin) closed out its non-conference schedule on Saturday night, Sept. 22 by trouncing Lakeland College (0-3), 49-9, on Saturday, Sept. 22 at Art Keller Field in Kenosha, Wis. The win was the Red Men's ninth in a row over the Muskies.
Carthage took a 17-0 lead in the first period. The Red Men scored on their second drive, with Shane Covington scoring from the four-yard line to cap a five-play, 56-yard drive. Brett Bukari drilled the first of four field goals, this one a 37-yarder, at 4:14 to make it 10-0, and Reggie Miller scored on a 40-yard touchdown run with 44 seconds remaining in the period for a 17-0 lead. Lakeland scored its only touchdown at 5:27 second period on a three-yard carry by Dylan Van Straten to cut the lead to 17-7. Bukari's second field goal, a 42-yard boot, upped the lead to 20-7 at 4:04. A touchdown pass from A.J. Simoncelli to Pete Djurickovic with 1:08 to play in the half made it a 27-7 game at halftime.
Bukari connected on his third field goal, a 38-yarder, at 12:00 third period, and the lead went to 30-7. Free safety Alex Vitkauskas returned a fumble recovery two yards for a touchdown at 11:36 third period, and the Red Men led, 37-7. Backup free safety Zac Pallissard was credited with a safety on a blocked Lakeland punt at 10:26 to make it a 39-7 contest. Bukari's fourth-and-final field goal, a 19-yard boot at 5:33 third period upped the Carthage lead to 42-7. Lakeland collected a safety at 7:56 fourth quarter to make it 42-9, and Red Men reserve quarterback Jeff Eder Jr. scored on a four-yard carry with 3:43 left in the game to close out the scoring at 49-9.
Carthage rolled up 353 total offensive yards, 201 rushing and 152 passing, while Lakeland was limited to just 62 total yards, 15 on the ground and 47 in the air. Red Men kicker Brett Bukari (Jr., Bloomfield Hills, Mich./Beverly Hills-Detroit Country Day) tied a Carthage game record and set an Art Keller Field mark with his four field goals. Bukari tied a mark set by Lloyd Griffin at North Park University in 1984. Quarterback A.J. Simoncelli (Fr., Downers Grove, Ill./South) completed 16-of-31 passes for 150 yards and rushed for 62 yards on six carries. Derek Bellamy (So., Sacramento, Calif./Monterrey Trail) ran for 60 yards on eight carries. Defensive end Tyler O'Brien (Sr., Cary, Ill./Cary-Grove) led the Red Men's defensive unit with seven tackles (6 solo, 1 assisted), including two and one-half tackles for loss and a sack.
"We were obviously in command the whole way," said Carthage coach Tim Rucks. "We were the better team tonight, and more importantly, we played better football. We went about things a little better this week. The no-huddle offense worked to our advantage, and it really shut off the Lakeland blitz. We made A.J. Simoncelli's life a little easier tonight than we did against Wartburg last week. He's going to be a really good quarterback, and you'll see that as the season goes along. This game did a lot to help his confidence, as well as the confidence of the whole team. Now things get more difficult, as we get into the CCIW-part of the schedule. I love the challenge. It's the best league in the country, and we'll see that in the next seven weeks. We're a work in progress, and we just need to focus on getting better each week."
Carthage plays host to North Park University (1-2, 0-0 CCIW) on Saturday, Sept. 29 in Carthage's Homecoming game, as well as the conference-opener for both teams.