Elmhurst Falls Short in CCIW Battle With North Central

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By Kevin Juday, Elmhurst Sports Information Director

ELMHURST, Ill. - The Elmhurst football team gave everything fourth-ranked North Central College could handle before falling 31-14 to the Cardinals.

It was a tale of two halves as the Bluejays hung right with the Cardinals for the first 30 minutes before being outscored 17-0 in the second half after waiting out an over 90-minute delay due to torrential rain and lightning.

Elmhurst (1-3, 0-1 CCIW) had a couple of early chances but could not convert. After forcing a three-and-out on North Central's first possession, the Bluejays drove across midfield but came up short on a fourth-and-one attempt. North Central took over but George DeMaria picked off Spencer Stanek and returned the ball to the Cardinals' 43-yard line. Elmhurst pushed the ball down to the NCC eight-yard line, but after a holding penalty, David Tomis' 30-yard field goal attempt was no good.

The Cardinals got on the scoreboard after the field goal miss, driving 80 yards in 11 plays with Stanek scoring on a seven-yard touchdown run.

Elmhurst evened the score midway through the second quarter as the Bluejays' strung together a 12-play, 80-yard scoring drive. Josh Williams keyed the drive with a 41-yard run down to the sidelines to the North Central 12-yard line. Facing a fourth-and-goal from the Cardinals' two-yard line, Williams took the snap out of the wildcat formation, and after getting turned away on his right, reversed direction and dove across the goal line for a two-yard score.

The Bluejays nearly caught North Central napping as Elmhurst went for an onside kick and recovered the football, but were ruled to have touched the ball one-yard before it traveled the minimum 10-yards. North Central quickly took advantage of the good field position as Stanek hooked up Chad O'Kane on a 21-yard touchdown pass to put the Cardinals on top 14-7 with 3:34 left.

After an Elmhurst punt, it appeared the Bluejays would go into the locker room trailing at the half, but on second-and-10 from the Elmhurst 48-yard line, the snap sailed off of Stanek and was grabbed out of midair by Elmhurst's Stephen Ritter. Ritter raced 47 yards to the end zone to even the score with just 12 seconds left in the half.

The second half began with a kickoff, but before the Bluejays could run a play on offense, the sky opened up and the game was halted due to lightning. After over a 90 minute delay, the Cardinals came to life, forcing the Bluejays into a three-and-out and then marching 68 yards for a touchdown on a seven-yard pass from Stanek to Peter Sorenson.

The Bluejays were promptly intercepted just three plays later and the Cardinals went to work at the Elmhurst 16-yard line. Stanek needed just one play to hit Ryne Rezac for a 16-yard touchdown to put North Central up 28-14.

The Cardinals tacked on a 25-yard field goal from Nick Dace in the fourth quarter for the game's final score.

After totaling nine first downs and 161 yards in the first half, Elmhurst's offense struggled in the second half. The Bluejays totaled just one first down and only 44 yards in the game's final 30 minutes.

Elmhurst finished with 205 yards of offense with 178 coming on the ground. North Central totaled 412 yards with a balanced 211 on the ground and 201 through the air.

Logan Stelzriede led the Bluejays on the ground, rushing 12 times for 72 yards. Williams added 18 carries to finish with 72 yards and a touchdown. Stelzriede finished 4-of-13 for 27 yards and two interceptions through the air.

Ryan Kent led the Cardinals with 14 carries for 98 yards while Oshayne Brown added 76 yards on 13 carries. Stanek finished 16-of-27 for 201 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Sorenson was the Cardinals' top target, catching seven passes for 106 yards and a score.

Charlie Roberts and DeMaria both turned in strong games to lead Elmhurst's defense in the loss. Roberts amassed a game-high 13 tackles, including three tackles for loss and two sacks. DeMaria added nine tackles, two sacks and an interception.

Nick Slezak paced the Cardinal's defense with 12 tackles, including three tackles for loss.

Elmhurst travels to Augustana College next Saturday, October 12.