La Crosse, Wis. - The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse football team fell 41-24 to sixth-ranked North Central College (Ill.) Saturday afternoon at Roger Harring Stadium at Veterans Memorial Field Sports Complex. The Eagles drop to 0-2 on the season while the Cardinals improve to 1-0.
UW-L took the opening kickoff and drove 57 yards in eight plays and 2:35 to take a 7-0 lead as Andy Sires threw an eight-yard touchdown pass to Chris Stackhouse. Matt Van Druten converted the extra point. North Central, ranked sixth on this week's D3football.com Top-25 Poll, responded on its first drive of the game to force a 7-7 tie. The Cardinals went 91 yards in six plays and 1:55 as quarterback Spencer Stanek had a 12-yard touchdown run with Nick Dace making the extra point.
After forcing a UW-L punt, North Central took a 14-7 advantage as Stanek scored on a 13-yard run. The Cardinals went 73 yards in 10 plays in 4:35.
The Eagles responded on their ensuing drive as Van Druten made a 22-yard field goal with 1:28 left in the first quarter. UW-L went 70 yards in 11 plays and 3:15.
Each team punted twice on the next four possessions of the game before North Central's Matt Randolph scored on a one-yard run with 3:01 remaining in the first half to make it 21-10. The Cardinals went 80 yards in 12 plays and 4:33. North Central led 21-10 at halftime.
North Central took the second half kickoff and drove to UW-L's 40-yard line, but Stanek fumbled with Andrew Walsh picking it up and runnign 53-yards for a touchdown to cut the Cardinals' lead to 21-17. Stanek came right back on the next drive, throwing an eight-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Thomas with 9:49 remaining in the third. The drive went 10 plays and 75 yards in 3:37.
UW-L punted on the next possession and North Central went 81 yards in 12 plays and 5:16 as Ryan Kent scored on a one-yard run with 3:58 left for a 35-17 lead. Tyler Dicken made it 41-17 with 5:12 remaining in the fourth quarter on a six-yard run. The extra-point was missed as North Central went 85 yards in 11 plays and 5:17.
The Eagles finished the scoring with 1:17 left as Sires threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Josh Schroeder. UW-L went 72 yards in nine plays and 3:48.
UW-L had 264 yards on offense, including 119 rushing and 145 passing. Jared Stan led the Eagles with 63 yards rushing on 14 carries while Ben Hertrampf finished with 48 yards on nine attempts.
Sires was 14-of-25 passing for 145 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He was sacked three times. Tony Favre (44 yards) and Stackhouse (21 yards) each had three catches. Schroeder (39 yards), Hertrampf (14) and Stan (14) each had two receptions with Schroeder catching one touchdown pass.
UW-L finished with 15 first downs and went three-of-11 (27.3%) on third-down. The Eagles were three-of-three in the red-zone.
North Central finished with 674 yards of offense, including 344 rushing and 330 passing. Stanek had 106 yards rushing on 15 attempts (7.1 average) with two touchdown while finishing 26-of-35 passing for 330 yards with one touchdown. He was sacked once.
Randolph had 80 yards rushing on 11 carries (7.3 average) while Kent finished with 76 yards on 13 attempts (5.8). Both players had one touchdown. Oshayne Brown had 54 yards on 10 carries (5.4). Chad O'Kane finished with nine catches for 105 yards while Peter Sorenson had eight receptions for 142 yards.
The Cardinals had 37 first downs and were nine-of-13 (69.2%) on third-down conversions. North Central won the time of possession, 36:13 to 23:47, and were six-of-six in red-zone opportunities.
Max Nicholson led UW-L with 11 tackles, including seven unassisted. Tyler Argall and Zach Wall each had 10 tackles with seven seven unassisted. Wall had 2.5 tackles for loss and one quarterback sack. Brett Benson totaled nine tackles, including eight unassisted. He had 1.0 tackle for loss.
Nick Slezak led North Central with nine tackles, including seven unassisted. John Focosi finished with 3.0 tackles for loss and two quarterback sacks.
UW-L returns to action Saturday, September 21 at Missouri Science & Technology. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. in Rolla, Missouri.