BELOIT, Wis. -- A dominant defensive effort and a rush-heavy offense carried the University of Chicago football team to a 17-0 victory at Beloit College on Saturday. The win was Chris Wilkerson's first as a collegiate head coach in his debut season.
The Maroons (1-0) are now 15-5 against the Buccaneers (0-1) since 1969.
UChicago's first offensive drive of the game resulted in points when junior kicker Karol Kurzydlowski booted a 42-yard field goal through the uprights. The visitors took advantage of great field position throughout the first half and drove into Beloit territory on its first six drives of the game.
The Maroons defense set up the second score of the game midway through the second quarter. A fumble by the quarterback was recovered by sophomore cornerback Vincent Beltrano at the Beloit 27-yard line. On the sixth play of the ensuing drive, senior quarterback Vincent Cortina hooked up with sophomore wide receiver Sam Coleman on a 13-yard touchdown pass with 4:47 left on the clock.
Beltrano was instrumental again in UChicago's next touchdown. Beloit's first pass of the third quarter was picked off by Beltrano and returned 21 yards to the 17-yard line. On the next play from scrimmage, Cortina found Coleman for another touchdown pass with 7:10 remaining in the third quarter.
The Maroons garnered their second shutout since 2006 on the back of a stifling defensive effort. UChicago limited the Bucs to 92 yards rushing on 33 attempts (2.8 yards per rush) and only 47 yards passing for a total of 139 yards. Beloit was also 4-for-12 on third-down conversions and 0-for-2 on fourth-down conversions. The team's last shutout occured on October 6, 2012 when UChicago defeated Allegheny College 10-0.
Senior linebacker Ben Wade led the team with eight tackles. Junior defensive end Brandon Bolock made his presence felt with seven tackles, four tackles for a loss and one sack. Beltrano added four tackles to go with his interception and fumble recovery.
UChicago relied heavily on its running game and ate up the game clock with 53 run plays compared to 21 pass plays. Junior running back Zak Ross-Nash earned the bulk of the carries with 25 touches for 104 yards. Senior running back Ian Gaines also had 54 yards on 15 rushes. The ground-and-pound attack allowed the Maroons to execute 74 offensive plays compared to 46 by the Bucs. Time of possession was firmly in the visitors' favor by a 2-to-1 ratio.
UChicago finished with 292 total yards of offense (191 rushing, 101 passing). Cortina completed 11 of 19 passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns. Coleman reeled in both scores while making three catches for 32 yards. Sophomore wide receiver Cole Thoms led the team with six catches for 59 yards, and sophomore running back Justin Waney grabbed the other two completions for 10 yards.