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University of Chicago Department of Athletics & Recreation

UChicago football rides running game and defensive line past Concordia Chicago 23-13

RIVER FOREST, Ill. -- Running back Zak Ross-Nash rushed for 180 yards and the defensive line racked up eight sacks to lead the University of Chicago football team to a 23-13 victory at Concordia University Chicago on Saturday.

The Maroons improved to 2-0 and the Cougars dropped to 0-2.

UChicago was firing on all cylinders offensively in the first quarter. The Maroons rung up 17 points by scoring on their first three drives of the game. Ross-Nash accounted for 64 yards on the opening drive, concluding with a one-yard plunge for a touchdown. On their next possession, the Maroons drove all the way to the Concordia seven-yard line, but had to settle for a 24-yard field goal by junior kicker Karol Kurzydlowski.

Sophomore cornerback Vincent Beltrano returned a punt 29 yards to the Concordia 27-yard line to set up another UChicago scoring drive. On the first play after the punt return, senior quarterback Vincent Cortina tossed a 27-yard touchdown pass to sophomore tight end Nathan Massey.

The Cougar defense tightened up and forced turnovers on the next two UChicago possessions. The home team got on the scoreboard with a 29-yard touchdown pass with 3:17 left in the first half. But the Maroons stymied any Concordia momentum when sophomore defensive back Greg Thome blocked a punt and recovered the ball in the end zone for a Maroons touchdown with 49 seconds left.

UChicago's lead remained at 23-6 for the entire third quarter. But a punt-return fumble went Concordia's way and the Cougars completed a 37-yard touchdown pass on third down and long to make the score 23-13. That marked the last scoring play of the day, as the Maroons pounded away with its running game and ran out the fourth quarter. UChicago's defense kept the pressure on in the fourth quarter, totaling six sacks in the final three Concordia possessions.

The Maroons turned in another sparkling defensive effort, limiting the Cougars to 253 yards and 10 first downs. The run defense only allowed 44 yards on 32 attempts for a 1.4 yards per carry average. Senior defensive tackle Michael Cifor collected 2.5 of the team's eight sacks on the day. Junior defensive end Brandon Bolock led the Maroons with eight tackles and sacked the quarterback twice. Bolock now has seven tackles for a loss through two games. Junior defensive tackle Scott Mainquist was also disruptive with two sacks and a forced fumble. Junior linebacker Schuyler Montefalco added seven tackles and sophomore cornerback Christopher Dengler pulled down his first career interception.

UChicago ran the ball 57 times compared to 18 pass plays. Ross-Nash set a career-high with 180 yards rushing on 41 carries. Senior running back Ian Gaines tallied 12 carries for 55 yards. Sophomore wide receiver Sam Coleman caught two passes for 42 yards. Cortina completed 7 of 16 passes for 132 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.