Time of Poss.
LISLE, IL - The Benedictine University football team held off visiting Aurora University to end the season with a fourth straight win and claim second place in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference.
Both teams opened the game with three-and-outs. A solid punt return by Juwann Nelson allowed Benedictine to open the second possession at the Aurora 45-yard line. Joe Marella snared a 23-yard pass from Ryan Sample to keep the drive alive on a third-and-10 play. Matt Fleming scored the first points of the game on a 22-yard pass on another third-and-10 play with 10:06 remaining in the first quarter, giving Benedictine a 7-0 lead.
Benedictine saw another drive stall at the Aurora 9-yard line late in the first. The defense held, but a punt followed by a penalty pinned Benedictine at their own 5-yard line with 1:03 left in the opening quarter. Nine plays and 95 yards later the lead extended to 14-0 when Brandon Moore streaked over the middle for a 30-yard touchdown grab. Sample completed seven passes on the drive, which took just 3:03. Grant Jochums hauled in four passes. Tyler Mitchell intercepted a pass in the endzone following a Benedictine turnover to ensure the first half ended with no more points on the board as Benedictine led 14-0.
Aurora received the ball to begin the second half and proceeded to march 75 yards on 12 plays in 6:38 to pull within 14-7. Benedictine responded by driving deep onto the Aurora side with a 13-play drive, but came away empty following a sack on fourth down at the Aurora 13.
The final Benedictine points came in the opening moments of the fourth quarter. Sample connected with Fleming on a 21-yard score at the 13:23 mark, completing a 65-yard drive. The defense halted Aurora at the Benedictine 20-yard line but a fumble was returned 43 yards for a touchdown, bringing Aurora within 20-14 with 8:17 left. Aurora had an opportunity to potentially tie or take the lead, gaining possession with 3:20 to go but stalled on a fourth-and-3 from the Benedictine 26, bringing an end to the contest.
Benedictine finished with 351 yards while holding Aurora to 276. The last two opponents did not total over 300 yards. Benedictine held five opponents under 300 yards this season. Sample finished with 281 yards passing, completing 28 passes with three touchdowns. Sample added 29 yards on the ground. Fleming caught six passes for 56 yards with a pair of touchdowns. Dean Pauley caught five passes for 65 yards while Jochums and Marella also added five receptions. Evontrae Pierce led the defense with nine tackles and a sack. Two of the tackles were for loss. Austin Nirva and Brad Nolan each added eight tackles.
Benedictine (7-3, 5-1 NACC) improved one game overall from the 2016 season and finished in second place in the NACC.