November 17, 2012

North Central's long trip ends in quick win

More news about: North Central (Ill.)
Nick Kukuc hit the ground running for North Central and finished with 250 yards.
Photo by Joe Bergman, d3photography.com 

The longest trip taken by a NCAA Division III football team did little to slow down the North Central Cardinals on Saturday, as they came out of the gate running and blew past the California Lutheran Kingsmen, 41-21, at William Rolland Stadium in the first round of the NCAA Division III football playoffs.

The Cardinals (9-2) won for the fifth straight time in the first round of the postseason, putting up 528 total yards and establishing control early with a 24-point first quarter.

"I thought our guys played really hard," said North Central head coach John Thorne. "They were definitely ready when the game started. The offense got going early and the defense got several stops. The guys did a good job running the clock down in the second half. 

"I thought Cal Lutheran played a great game. It was a lot closer than the score shows. We made some big plays, and they just missed on some of their opportunities for big plays, partially because our guys made it happen."

North Central was also the beneficiary of the efforts of running back Nick Kukuc, who gained a career-high 250 yards on 20 carries, coming up just 10 yards short of the Cardinals' single-game record. Kukuc did break his own single-season school record, currently owning 1,259 rushing yards this season.

"We knew we had to run the ball," Kukuc said. "The offensive line did great. We had some mistakes here and there, but we know our main focus is to run the ball and we knew we could do that. We did well, but we know we can do better."

Kukuc threw the opening punch soon after the bell sounded, taking the second play from scrimmage 79 yards to the end zone for a touchdown. The Cardinals fumbled away their next possession, but needed just three plays to score once again after forcing a CLU punt. Quarterback Spencer Stanek completed a 25-yard pass to Ryan Szudarki and handed off to Kukuc for 23 yards before calling his own number on the option and running 11 yards to the end zone. 

North Central's special-teams unit came up big on the next play, forcing a fumble which was recovered by P.J. Crotty at the Kingsmen's 25-yard line. Kicker Nick Dace came on to knock in a 38-yard field goal with 4:55 on the first-quarter clock, boosting the lead to 17-0. 

Cal Lutheran (8-2) saw is next possession result in a fumble as well, as Joey Michals pounced on the loose ball at the Cardinals' 25. Four plays later, the visitors were in the end zone again. On third down-and-21, Stanek fired a deep pass to Jeff Stolzenburg, who collected the ball and tiptoed down the sideline for a 54-yard TD with 18 seconds left in the opening period.

The Kingsmen got on the board midway through the second quarter, intercepting a pass at their own 33 and embarking on an 11-play, 67-yard drive which culminated in a 3-yard scoring run by Ryan Zirbel with 4:34 on the clock. North Central fumbled on its next play from scrimmage and the hosts had a chance to further cut into the lead, but the Cardinals' Josh Fick forced a fumble on fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line and Michals recovered to negate the threat.

Stanek got the Cardinals out of the shadow of their own end zone with a 48-yard bomb to Stolzenburg, and Dace closed the half with a 49-yard field goal to send North Central into the locker room with a 27-7 halftime advantage.

The Cardinals forced a punt on the opening drive of the second half, and Kukuc ran four times for 66 yards in a seven-play, 77-yard drive which ended with Stanek's 13-yard TD pass to Stolzenburg with 9:11 on the clock in the third period. North Central opened its final scoring drive at its own 32 after Josh Mitchell intercepted a pass from Kingsmen quarterback Zach Shultis, as Stanek foundChad O'Kane for a 34-yard score on third down.

North Central's defense held Cal Lutheran to 324 total yards, roughly 200 below the Kingsmen's season average, and forced four turnovers while recording four quarterback sacks. Michals led the way with nine tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack, while Alex Pirela made eight stops and Josh Beveridge tallied two sacks to give him a team-high 7.5 for the season.

"The getting the job done today was the game plan our coaches put together," Michals said. "We knew they were a great offensive team, and they showed it today. We just wanted to go about our business like we do every week. Our defensive line played great and the secondary did a great job as well. I think everyone just played hard and the game plan was what did it for us."

Stanek completed 13 of 19 passes for 236 yards, while Stolzenburg hauled in a career-high 121 yards on four catches. The Cardinals recorded 26 first downs and did not punt all afternoon.

Shultis completed 18 of 26 pases for 171 yards, while receiver Eric Rogers caught nine passes for 111 yards and two scores and Romello Goodman paced Cal Lutheran's ground game with 70 yards on 16 carrie. Dontaie Ferguson led the Kingsmen with a game-high 11 tackles.

The Cardinals advance to next Saturday's second round, traveling to face Linfield, a 27-24 winner over Pacific Lutheran in the first round.

"It's going to be a lot of travel involved," Thorne said, "but we need these guys to be able to finish their final exams, and we're looking forward to studying the tapes and trying to figure out a game plan and watching our guys execute it."

comments powered by Disqus
Sep. 20: All times Eastern
Final
RPI 41, at Castleton State 13
Box Score Recap
Final - 2OT
at Massachusetts Maritime 26, Maine Maritime 20
Box Score Recap
Final
at Rochester 30, Gallaudet 2
Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Husson 34, Alfred State 28
Box Score Photos
Final
at Randolph-Macon 34, Sewanee 20
Box Score
Final
at Johns Hopkins 33, Moravian 14
Box Score Recap
Final
at Utica 20, Frostburg State 12
Box Score Recap Recap
Final
Alfred 29, at Buffalo State 21
Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Catholic 31, Newport News Apprentice 24
Box Score
Final
at Nichols 10, Becker 3
Box Score
Final
Wesleyan 22, at Middlebury 14
Box Score
Final
Bridgewater State 51, at Worcester State 27
Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Tufts 24, Hamilton 17
Box Score Recap Recap Photos
Final
at Amherst 14, Bates 6
Box Score Photos
Final
at Trinity (Conn.) 32, Colby 7
Box Score Recap
Final
at William Paterson 36, Salve Regina 32
Box Score Recap
Final
at Stevenson 20, Lebanon Valley 14
Box Score
Final
Allegheny 24, at Hiram 21
Box Score Recap
Final
at Merchant Marine 34, SUNY-Maritime 17
Box Score Recap
Final
at St. Vincent 23, Case Western Reserve 20
Box Score
Final
Thomas More 66, at Thiel 27
Box Score Recap
Final
Ursinus 31, at Franklin and Marshall 24
Box Score Recap
Final
Endicott 41, at Kean 28
Box Score Recap
Final
at Hampden-Sydney 56, Coast Guard 0
Box Score
Final
Maryville (Tenn.) 40, at Averett 17
Box Score
Final
at Widener 41, Albright 23
Final
Hobart 43, at Curry 13
Box Score Recap
Final
at Greensboro 37, LaGrange 35
Box Score
Final
at Dickinson 29, Susquehanna 28
Box Score Photos
Final
at Wesley 37, Rowan 7
Box Score Recap
Final
at St. Lawrence 31, Morrisville State 14
Box Score
Final
at Misericordia 35, FDU-Florham 0
Final
at Gettysburg 31, Juniata 17
Box Score Recap
Final
at Montclair State 27, Lincoln (Pa.) 14
Box Score Recap
Final
Wabash 31, at Denison 12
Box Score Photos
Final - OT
Bethany 21, at Westminster (Pa.) 14
Final
at Springfield 47, Mount Ida 16
Box Score Recap
Final
at Ithaca 42, Hartwick 7
Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Norwich 10, WPI 7
Box Score Recap
Final
Iowa Wesleyan 13, at Minnesota-Morris 7
Box Score
Final - OT
at Methodist 41, Huntingdon 34
Box Score
Final
Ohio Northern 37, at Baldwin Wallace 35
Box Score
Final
at Capital 34, Wilmington 21
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
Franklin 62, at Anderson 14
Box Score
Final
at Washington and Jefferson 48, Carnegie Mellon 30
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at John Carroll 43, Heidelberg 16
Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Lycoming 28, King's 13
Box Score Recap
Final
at Waynesburg 44, Geneva 38
Box Score
Final
Mount Union 62, at Muskingum 6
Box Score Photos
Final
Mount St. Joseph 24, at Defiance 21
Box Score
Final
at Manchester 55, Earlham 7
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Williams 36, Bowdoin 0
Box Score Photos Photos
Final
Muhlenberg 59, at McDaniel 10
Box Score
Final
UW-Whitewater 48, at TCNJ 0
Box Score
Final
at Otterbein 20, Marietta 0
Box Score
Final
Hope 25, at Lakeland 22
Box Score Recap
Final
Olivet 49, at Aurora 20
Box Score Recap
Final
Albion 57, at Concordia (Wis.) 20
Box Score
Final
at Washington U. 24, North Park 19
Box Score Recap
Final
at Wisconsin Lutheran 32, Kalamazoo 20
Box Score
Final
at Wheaton (Ill.) 17, UW-Eau Claire 0
Box Score Recap Recap
Final
Concordia-Moorhead 23, at St. John's 14
Box Score Photos
Final
at Bethel 40, St. Olaf 0
Box Score
Final
Augsburg 42, at Carleton 14
Box Score
Final
at Gustavus Adolphus 48, Hamline 19
Box Score Photos
Final
Stetson 37, at Birmingham-Southern 19
Box Score
Final
Trinity (Texas) 14, at Sul Ross State 6
Box Score
Final
at Austin 21, Occidental 12
Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Howard Payne 38, Southwestern Assemblies 25
Final
at Central 65, Maranatha Baptist 12
Box Score Recap
Final
at Luther 49, Grinnell 21
Box Score
Final
UW-Stevens Point 37, at Coe 21
Box Score
Final
at Greenville 30, Eureka 27
Box Score
Final
Westminster (Mo.) 27, at MacMurray 21
Box Score
Final
Texas Lutheran 38, at Louisiana College 32
Box Score Recap
Final
at Simpson 13, Illinois Wesleyan 3
Box Score
Final
Trine 27, at Rockford 7
Box Score Recap
Final - 2OT
Rose-Hulman 48, at Hanover 42
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Western Connecticut 45, Plymouth State 7
Box Score
Final
Hardin-Simmons 37, at Wayland Baptist 23
Box Score
Final
at Whittier 23, Lewis and Clark 10
Box Score
Final
Willamette 42, at Cal Lutheran 24
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
Alma 24, at Concordia-Chicago 21
Box Score
Final
Carroll 28, at Lake Forest 7
Box Score
Final
Whitworth 50, at La Verne 48
Box Score Recap Recap Photos
Final
Westfield State 14, at Mass-Dartmouth 13
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at St. Scholastica 48, Crown 14
Box Score Recap
Final
at Wittenberg 34, DePauw 17
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
St. John Fisher 36, at Brockport State 20
Box Score Recap
Final
Guilford 35, at Southern Virginia 27
@ Salem Stadium
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
Wooster 63, at Oberlin 10
Box Score Recap
Final
at Shenandoah 45, Ferrum 20
Box Score Photos
Final
Centre 28, at Washington and Lee 23
Box Score
Final
at Ohio Wesleyan 35, Kenyon 25
Box Score
Final
at Delaware Valley 54, Wilkes 35
Box Score Recap
Final
UW-River Falls 43, at South Dakota Mines 28
Box Score
Final
at Augustana 34, Loras 17
Final
at Dubuque 16, Pacific 10
Box Score Recap
Final
at North Central (Ill.) 28, UW-Platteville 7
Box Score Recap
Final
Chicago 29, at Elmhurst 17
Box Score Recap
Final
Mary Hardin-Baylor 41, at UW-La Crosse 22
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at South Dakota State 41, UW-Oshkosh 3
Box Score
Final
Adrian 23, at Benedictine 6
Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Wartburg 45, UW-Stout 14
Box Score Recap
Final
at Northwestern (Minn.) 34, Martin Luther 27
Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at East Texas Baptist 58, Southwestern 34
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
Rhodes 42, at Pomona-Pitzer 21
Box Score Recap
Final
Linfield 36, at Redlands 3
Box Score Recap Photos
Sep. 26: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Fitchburg State at Bridgewater State
Live Stats Video
Sep. 27: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Marietta at Mount Union
Preview Live Stats Audio Tickets
7:00 PM
Baldwin Wallace at John Carroll
Live Stats Video Audio Audio
7:00 PM
Kean at Mary Hardin-Baylor
Live Stats Video Audio
7:00 PM
Pacific Lutheran at Trinity (Texas)
Live Stats Video Audio
2:00 PM
Allegheny at Wabash
Live Stats Video Audio Audio
2:00 PM
Johns Hopkins at Muhlenberg
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
Ohio Northern at Heidelberg
Audio
1:30 PM
Westminster (Pa.) at Thomas More
Live Stats Audio
1:30 PM
Ithaca at Alfred
Video
1:00 PM
Southern Virginia at Wesley
Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
St. John Fisher at Frostburg State
Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
Wittenberg at Oberlin
Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
Merchant Marine at Hobart
Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
Lycoming at Wilkes
Live Stats Audio
3:00 PM
North Central (Ill.) at UW-Stevens Point
Live Stats Video Audio Audio
2:10 PM
St. John's at St. Thomas
Live Stats Video Audio Audio
2:00 PM
Bethel at Carleton
Live Stats Video Audio
Sep. 20: All times Eastern
Final
St. John Fisher 36, at Brockport State 20
Box Score Recap
Final
at Wittenberg 34, DePauw 17
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Wartburg 45, UW-Stout 14
Box Score Recap
Final
at South Dakota State 41, UW-Oshkosh 3
Box Score
Final
at North Central (Ill.) 28, UW-Platteville 7
Box Score Recap
Final
Mary Hardin-Baylor 41, at UW-La Crosse 22
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
Linfield 36, at Redlands 3
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
UW-Whitewater 48, at TCNJ 0
Box Score
Final
Mount Union 62, at Muskingum 6
Box Score Photos
Final
at John Carroll 43, Heidelberg 16
Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Lycoming 28, King's 13
Box Score Recap
Final
at Wesley 37, Rowan 7
Box Score Recap
Final
at Hampden-Sydney 56, Coast Guard 0
Box Score
Final
Wabash 31, at Denison 12
Box Score Photos
Final
Thomas More 66, at Thiel 27
Box Score Recap
Final
at Ithaca 42, Hartwick 7
Box Score Recap Recap
Final
Hobart 43, at Curry 13
Box Score Recap
Final
at Johns Hopkins 33, Moravian 14
Box Score Recap
Final
at Bethel 40, St. Olaf 0
Box Score
Final
at Wheaton (Ill.) 17, UW-Eau Claire 0
Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Simpson 13, Illinois Wesleyan 3
Box Score

What We're Reading