ELMHURST, Ill. – The Elmhurst football team forced three turnovers, but came up short in a 48-21 season-opening loss to Aurora University at Langhorst Field.
Aurora (2-0) scored the first 21 points of the game as Gavin Zimbelman connected on touchdown passes of 17, seven and 15 yards to Jacolby Maxwell to stake the Spartans to an early lead.
Elmhurst's defense put the Bluejays' first points of the season on the scoreboard midway through the second quarter. Jeremy Inniss picked off a Zimbelman pass and returned the interception 16 yards for a touchdown. Sean Jay ran in a fake on the point after to make the score 21-8 in favor of the Spartans.
Elmhurst looked to have some momentum after Nick Marino picked off Zimbelman at the Aurora 41-yard line on the Spartans' next possession, but an Elmhurst fumble two plays later gave the ball back to Aurora. The Spartans took advantage of the turnover, driving 60 yards in six plays and extending its lead to 28-8 after Travys Davis scored on a 24-yard touchdown reception.
Maxwell hauled in his fourth touchdown reception of the game just before the half to put Aurora up 35-8 at halftime.
Aurora tacked on two touchdowns in the third quarter to extend its lead to 48-8 before the Bluejays scored two touchdowns in the fourth. Elmhurst's first offensive score of the game came on an 8-yard scramble from Jake Tahaney. Tahaney's carry capped a an eight-play, 60-yard drive that was keyed by a 39-yard rush from Treston Womack.
Elmhurst cashed in on Aurora's third turnover on the Spartans ensuing possession. Bryce Gable stripped the ball loose and Lavor Little recovered the fumble to give Elmhurst the ball at the Aurora 24-yard line. Three plays later, Tahaney hit Casey Dobczy from 12 yards out for a touchdown.
Elmhurst's offense struggled in the contest, finishing with seven first downs and 154 yards of total offense. The Bluejays' rushed for 91 yards while passing for 63. Aurora racked up 550 yards of offense, rushing for 214 and passing for 336.
Womack led Elmhurst on the ground with 11 carries and 69 yards. Tahaney completed eight of 20 pass attempts for 63 yards and a score. Ben Fridrich caught four passes for 30 yards for the Bluejays.
Zimbelman paced the Spartans' attack, finishing 30-of-46 through the air for 336 yards and seven touchdowns. Maxwell tallied 13 receptions for 149 yards and four touchdowns. Davis led the Spartans' ground game with 98 yards on 14 carries.
Inniss and Tanner King led Elmhurst's defense with seven tackles apiece. Jay and Andrew Mink finished with six tackles each.
Elmhurst (0-1) begins CCIW play next Saturday by traveling to Augustana College.