CHICAGO – Sophomore running back Chandler Carroll ran his way into the school's history books and spurred the University of Chicago football team to a 49-30 victory over No. 20-ranked Centre College on Saturday. Carroll rewrote the individual rushing yardage record for a game with 311 yards on 30 carries to go with three touchdowns.
Saturday's afternoon contest was the first ever between UChicago and Centre in football. The Maroons are off to a 3-0 start for the third year in-a-row and sit atop the Southern Athletic Association (SAA) with a 2-0 record. The Colonels (3-1 overall, 1-1 SAA) saw their 14-game regular season win streak snapped.
Bruce Montella was UChicago's previous single-game rushing yards leader with 305 yards versus Knox College in 1985. If not for Carroll's historic exploits, junior quarterback Burke Moser's afternoon had would usually be the top story. Moser threw for four touchdowns and 212 yards in addition to making smart decisions and not turning the ball over.
The junior quarterback's passing provided the initial burst of offense for a team that came into the day as underdogs. On UChicago's second possession of the day, Moser hit senior wide receiver Cole Thoms for a 23-yard gain on third down. The very next play, the Maroons ran a play-action bootleg for Moser who, with great protection on the play, waited for Chandler to come out of the backfield and floated a feathery ball that his sophomore running back ran under for a 26-yard connection.
Faced with a fourth down on the Colonels' 22-yard line, UChicago gambled. Going back to the same play-action bootleg call, Moser rolled out and found Thoms for the 22-yard hookup and score.
A failed fourth down for the Colonels gave the Maroons the ball back on their 41 with 7:20 left in the first quarter. Working out of the shotgun, Moser faked a handoff and then fired a 16-yard dart to Thoms for a first down. On the next play, Carroll got the handoff and rolled for 16 yards.
Facing third down, Moser floated another deep ball into the outstretched hands of junior wide receiver Syd Reynolds, who burst up the seam and made the tremendous catch at full speed for the 23-yard touchdown. The extra point gave the home team a 14-0 lead.
Centre came into the game with impressive offensive numbers. The Colonels ranked ninth in NCAA Division III in rushing offense (334.3 yards per game) and 14th in total offense (559.7 yards per game) so far this season. Back-to-back rushes of 37 and 18 yards for the Colonels had them back in business and four yards out from the end zone. However, four-straight Centre rushes failed to cross the plane and the Maroons took over on downs after a momentous goal-line stand. The fourth-down stop came courtesy of junior linebacker Jackson Garrey, who raced around the line and then leapt on the ball carrier to wrestle him down.
With 10:59 left in the second quarter, Centre cut the Maroon lead in half, capping a 47-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run from junior running back Nolan Coulter.
Garrey came up big with another fourth-down stop on Centre's next possession and the Maroons took over with 7:44 left in the half. A big 21-yard gain from Carroll got the offense humming. Moser brought UChicago down to the Centre 35-yard line with a quick 12-yard strike to senior wide receiver Sam Coleman. Then, running play-action, Moser linked up with senior tight end Nathan Massey for a 35-yard score over the top of the defense.
A 32-yard field goal for Centre with 1:26 left in the half brought the Colonels within 11 at 21-10. UChicago took over intending to run the ball and enter the break with a two-score lead. However, the complexion of the drive changed when Carroll found a hole and broke loose for a 48-yard gain, taking the Maroons down to the Centre 19-yard line. A 16-yard gain through the air from Moser to Thoms set up a first and goal from the three. The same combination of Moser and Thoms got the Maroons in the end zone and up 28-7 with a mere 12 seconds left in the half.
The Colonels came out of halftime with a huge kick return and quick touchdown, and looked as though they were prepared to make a run at closing the lead.
However, at that point Carroll took over the game. The next drive for the Maroons he broke free for 39 yards and a score. He received the handoff again and broke free for 33 more yards to the Centre 20-yard line on the next possession. After a pass interference penalty set UChicago up with a first and goal, Carroll pounded the ball in from five yards out for his second score of the day to give the Maroons a 42-16 advantage.
The next two Centre drives failed to end in points and the Maroons received the ball with 3:30 left in the third quarter. Facing a 3rd and 11, Carroll broke free through the teeth of the defense. He raced up the left side of the field, evading tacklers and stumbling through near take-downs – 72 yards later, he was in the end zone for a breathtaking touchdown. Carroll had 267 yards and three touchdowns at that point and the Maroons led 49-16.
With the game in hand, UChicago rode its run game to the finish. The Maroons only threw the ball seven times in the second half. Carroll continued to churn out yards and eventually passed 300 yards and Montella's record. Centre was able to score 14 points in the fourth quarter, but the result was not in doubt.
Stagg Field saw plenty of yards racked up on its turf. UChicago totaled 541 yards (329 rushing, 212 passing) while Centre tallied 497 yards (300 rushing, 197 passing). Carroll averaged 10.4 yards per rush on the day. Moser completed 14 of 25 passes for 212 yards and four touchdowns. Thoms was the big beneficiary with six catches, 89 yards and two touchdowns through the air.
Defensively, Garrey made his presence felt all over the field with a season-high 14 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. Senior safety Greg Thome added 12 tackles while freshman safety Jeremy Vincent had 11 tackles and four pass breakups. Junior defensive tackle Steven McGugan (10 tackles) and junior linebacker Tim Veselik (5 tackles) each recorded a quarterback sack. UChicago's secondary broke up eight passes on the day and limited Centre's quarterbacks to 16-for-39 passing (41 percent).
- Saturday, October 3 – UChicago at Birmingham Southern College, 1 PM