CHICAGO – The University of Chicago football team saw its 11-game home win streak snapped on Saturday afternoon after Berry College defeated the Maroons 24-17 in overtime.
The Vikings kept their footing atop the Southern Athletic Association (SAA) standings, moving to 5-1 overall and 4-0 in conference. The Maroons absorbed their first loss of the season, dropping to 4-1 overall and 3-1 in the SAA. It was UChicago's first home loss since November 10, 2012.
Now in its third year as a football program, Berry came into the day with more wins this season (4) than in the past two seasons combined (2). The Vikings had only allowed one offensive touchdown and 16 points overall over the last three weeks.
On its second possession of the day, UChicago received a short punt and set up on the visiting 45-yard line. Running play-action out of the shotgun, Maroon junior quarterback Burke Moser threw up the seam to senior tight end Nathan Massey, who was able to pick up 23 yards. On the next play, running the same play-action, Moser took it to his right and fed his senior wide receiver Cole Thoms for 14 yards and a first down.
However, the drive stalled in the red zone and a Berry sack set up a 29-yard field goal attempt, which missed wide left. Sophomore defensive end Peter Casey nearly took down the quarterback on the next drive, but Berry completed a quick screen to the running back to pick up 24 yards. A huge pass and catch for the Vikings reached the end zone; however, offsetting penalties brought the play back and a punt ended the threat.
Effective punting throughout the day put the Maroons in difficult field position. Five offensive possessions started within their own 15-yard line thanks to Berry's running punts. UChicago took over on its own 8-yard line with four minutes left in the first quarter. After a few short completions got them rolling, the Maroons struck hard and fast. Moser rolled out and found Thoms for a reception about 20 yards down the field, and Thoms turned and broke loose for a 63-yard touchdown.
The Vikings countered right back on the next series. Back-to-back third-down conversions, including a 44-yard run by running back Austin Lowe, had the Vikings at 1st-and-10 on the 15-yard line. Berry gave the ball to Lowe two plays later and he pounded the ball into the end zone to tie the game at 7-7.
The Maroons fired right back by dialing up another long pass. Moser hit senior wide receiver Sam Coleman up the seam, who then high stepped free of a safety, breaking the play for a 62-yard touchdown. After the extra point, the Maroons led 14-7.
Berry earned a short field at UChicago's 37 with 6:29 left in the second quarter. A 20-yard run brought the Vikings into the red zone with a 1st-and-10 from the 14. While the Maroons were able to force a third down, the Vikings once again converted, this time for an eight-yard touchdown to wide receiver Trey Ciresi to tie the game 14-14.
Both defenses elevated their play from that point on and refused to allow points and yardage. From the 3:53 mark in the second quarter to the start of the fourth quarter, the 11 combined possessions traversed only 109 yards.
Berry's defensive front harassed UChicago all afternoon. The Vikings got into the backfield regularly to flush out Moser on passing plays and stuff the running game at the line of scrimmage. The visitors racked up four sacks, 13 tackles for loss and limited UChicago to 56 yards rushing (1.3 yards per carry).
The first drive of the fourth quarter ended with Berry missing a 40-yard field goal. Two penalties on the ensuing possession helped kick start a 57-yard drive for UChicago. A sack and false start backed up the Maroons, setting up a 39-yard field goal attempt. Senior Karol Kurzydlowski struck the ball through the uprights to give the home team a 17-14 advantage with 5:31 left in the game.
With time ticking down, UChicago's defense appeared to make a fourth-down stop near midfield. But a pass interference call kept the drive alive. A huge 29-yard catch by Chris Lilly put Berry in position to score. The Vikings found themselves kicking from 40 yards with a chance to tie the game. The low-flying line drive through the uprights by kicker Mitchell Blanchard forced overtime, 17-17.
Overtime commenced with both teams getting an opportunity to score from 25 yards out. Berry's 11-yard third down completion set the Vikings up at the UChicago 11. Facing yet another third down, quarterback Dale Jackson completed an 11-yard touchdown to the leaping Ciresi.
The Maroons were next up on offense. A 15-yard illegal hands to the face penalty pushed UChicago back right away, and the game ultimately ended on a desperation heave that was knocked to the ground on fourth down.
Berry totaled 411 yards of offense (251 passing, 160 rushing) and UChicago finished with 341 yards (285 passing, 56 rushing). Moser threw for 285 yards and two touchdowns, completing 16 of his 32 pass attempts. Sophomore running back Chandler Carroll was limited to 49 yards on 29 carries (1.7 yards per carry). Thoms was Moser's favorite target, hauling in seven catches for 130 yards and a score. Coleman added three catches for 86 yards and a touchdown.
Junior linebacker Jackson Garrey paced the defensive effort once more with a team-best 13 tackles and two tackles for loss. He also stripped the ball and recovered the fumble to end a second-quarter drive. Junior nose tackle Eddie Giannina mixed it up with eight tackles (one for loss) and senior cornerback Christopher Dengler tallied seven tackles (two for loss). Senior linebacker Nick Pielech made six tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.
- Saturday, October 17 – UChicago at Rhodes College, 1 PM