Galesburg, IL -
The Prairie Fire offense had a big day, piling up the highest point total in a game in nearly six years. Lawrence University, however, had an even bigger day offensively and came away with a 63-42 victory Saturday in the Midwest Conference opener for both teams at the Knosher Bowl.
The Fire and the Vikings combined for 60 first downs and 1,159 yards of offense while players from both offenses entered the record books as a result of the shootout.
Lawrence quarterback Luke Barthelmess completed 28-of-39 passes for 549 yards and six touchdowns. He set a new Midwest Conference record for passing yardage in a game, besting the previous mark of 532 by former Knox quarterback Bob Monroe established in October of 1986 against Cornell College. The six TD passes by Barthelmess ties him for second in league history.
Sophomore quarterback Drew Diaz (Niles, Illinois) tied a Knox College football record with five touchdown passes. Diaz, who completed 21 of his 40 attempts for 313 yards, shares the honor with five others: Monroe, Jim Wise, Todd Monken, Mike Erwin, and Anthony McClenathan.
Junior Clarke Cuthbert (Oak Park, Illinois) caught eight passes for 181 yards. He moved into ninth place all-time for receiving yards in a game by a Knox player.
The Prairie Fire had 31 first downs in the game, which is tied for eighth all-time in MWC history and one short of the school record set in 1986 against Grinnell College. In addition, the 42 points scored by Knox is the most since a 57 point outburst and victory on October 15, 2005 -- the Homecoming game -- against Grinnell College.
The Prairie Fire took a 7-0 lead when Diaz hit sophomore Jonas Mack (Algonquin, Illinois) with a 17-yard touchdown pass with 7:24 to play in the first quarter. Junior Doug Lillibridge (Byron, Illinois) made all six of his extra point attempts.
Lawrence (1-1, 1-0 MWC) answered back at the 5:44 mark of the quarter with a touchdown when Tyler Mazur caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from Barthelmess. The Vikings, after a penalty, went for a two-point conversion that was snuffed out by Knox to keep the score at 7-6.
Cuthbert scored on a 22-yard pass reception to give the Prairie Fire (0-2, 0-1 MWC) a 14-6 lead with 3:07 to go in the first quarter. The Vikings responded with 28 unanswered points before the Prairie Fire closed the gap to 34-21 on a 16-yard run by senior Luke Northam (Colorado Springs, Colorado) 3:28 before halftime. Neither team scored the rest of the first half.
The teams combined for over 600 yards through two quarters of play with Lawrence holding a 391-218 advantage. All but 10 of the Vikings' yards were through the air.
Lawrence outscored the Prairie Fire 14-7 in the third quarter to take a 48-28 lead into the final stanza. Mazur scored on a 14-yard pass from Barthelmess at the 13:16 mark and on a 3-yard run with 5:23 to go in the quarter. The Prairie Fire fought back, scoring with 50 seconds left in the quarter on a 23-yard pass play from Diaz to Northam.
Lawrence scored quickly in the fourth quarter. Mazur capped off a 3-play, 78-yard drive with a 72-yard touchdown reception with 14:43 to play in the game for a 55-28 advantage. The Prairie Fire, just 28 seconds later, scored on the first play of the drive -- a 62-yard pass from Diaz to Cuthbert -- that sliced the deficit to 55-35.
The teams traded touchdowns the rest of the way. Barthelmess scored the final TD for Lawrence on a 20-yard run with 12:36 to play and sophomore Zach Belk (Peoria, Illinois) caught a 9-yard pass from Diaz for his first touchdown of the season at 7:56 for the final points of the afternoon.
The Prairie Fire ran 90 plays and piled up 503 yards of offense. Sophomore Derek Mortensen (Crystal Lake, Illinois) had 18 carries for a game-high 84 yards. Knox ran the football 48 times for 190 yards.
Lawrence had 656 yards of offense -- 573 through the air and 83 rushing. Mazur led his team with eight catches for 220 yards and five touchdowns, four of them receiving.