CHICAGO, Ill. -- The University of Chicago football team took advantage of six Kalamazoo College turnovers and grinded out a 31-17 home victory on Saturday. The Maroons kept their undefeated record intact at 4-0 while the Hornets dropped to 2-2.
Kalamazoo outgained UChicago 444 to 243 in total offensive yards, but were hamstrung by four fumbles and two interceptions. The Hornets ended up running 95 plays on offense compared to 65 plays by the Maroons, while the home team actually held the time of possession advantage 33:25 to 26:35.
Kalamazoo came into the game as one of the nation's top offenses with its no-huddle, precise spread attack. However, the Hornets turned the ball over on its second offensive play of the game. Sophomore cornerback Vincent Beltrano forced and then recovered a fumble after a 12-yard completion to set the Maroons up in good field position. The very next play, senior quarterback Vincent Cortina lofted a 35-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Sam Coleman to grab a 6-0 lead.
The Hornets regained their composure and drove 75 yards over 12 plays to score a six-yard touchdown pass of its own to go up 7-6. Kalamazoo controlled the first half throughout, owning a 15-3 advantage in first downs and a 255-88 lead in total offensive yards. But five first-half turnovers kept Kalamazoo from scoring points.
The Maroons went up 9-7 on a 32-yard field goal by junior kicker Karol Kurzydlowski with 2:30 left in the second quarter. It was set up by a Kalamazoo fumble that was scooped up by junior defensive end Brandon Bolock at the visitors' 23-yard line. The Hornets recaptured the lead going into halftime with a 56-yard drive that ended with a 10-yard touchdown pass with 30 seconds left.
UChicago pinned Kalamazoo to its own seven-yard line to begin the second half and forced a three-and-out to start its own drive in opposing territory. Cortina then broke through the defense with a designed quarterback draw up the middle and scampered into the end zone for a 42-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion pass from Cortina to sophomore tight end Nathan Massey succeeded to put the Maroons ahead 17-14.
The next Maroons possession reached the Kalamazoo 14-yard line. But a fake field goal on fourth down turned into a fumble that was returned to the Hornets 40-yard line. However, the visitors gave it right back on the ensuing play with a fumble of their own. Sophomore cornerback Christopher Dengler grabbed the bounding ball and sprinted in for a 32-yard defensive touchdown to make the score 24-14.
The Hornets kicked a 30-yard field goal late in the third quarter to pull within 24-17. The Maroons then embarked on a six-minute drive and were knocking on the door with a first-and-goal at the seven-yard line. Kalamazoo held strong defensively and forced a fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line. Cortina then came through with a one-yard touchdown pass to Massey to increase the lead to 31-17.
The visitors almost answered with a score of their own on the next drive. But they were stopped on a fourth-and-goal run play as UChicago's defense stood firm. Time ran out before Kalamazoo could mount another charge, and the Maroons improved to 4-0 for the first time since 2001.
Cortina led the offense by completing 9 of 19 passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 35 yards on six carries with one touchdown. Coleman caught two passes for 43 yards and one touchdown. Sophomore wide receiver Cole Thoms (32 yards) and junior wide receiver Tom O'Neill (19 yards) also hauled in two receptions apiece. Junior running back Zak Ross-Nash rushed the ball 23 times for 68 yards and senior running back Ian Gaines ran 13 times for 42 yards.
The Maroons defense was paced by junior linebacker Schuyler Montefalco, who tallied 13 tackles and two tackles for a loss. Dengler made 11 tackles with two breakups and one fumble recovery. Beltrano tallied 10 tackles, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. He also was a stand-out on special teams, returning two punts for 54 yards and three kickoffs for 58 yards. Sophomore defensive end Ryan Oros and sophomore safety Jacob Romeo had eight tackles each. Senior linebacker Brian Duffy made seven tackles with one interception. Freshman defensive lineman Steven McGugan also registered his first career interception.