CHICAGO – Saturday's Homecoming game started warm and sunny and ended with a cold breeze and ominous clouds as the University of Chicago football team was ultimately unable to close its comeback effort, losing 27-21 to Hendrix College.
The loss dropped the Maroons to 5-2 overall, 4-2 in the Southern Athletic Association (SAA). The Warriors improved to 5-2 overall, 4-1 in the SAA.
Hendrix came into the contest with a balanced attack that averaged 249.0 yards through the air and 240.8 yards on the ground. Star junior running back Dayton Winn showed why he ranks second in NCAA Division III football in total rushing yards (1,016), picking up 197 yards and a score on 33 attempts at Stagg Field.
On UChicago's first defensive possession, Hendrix broke free for two sizable gains on the ground. The Maroons then dug their cleats into the turf and stopped the Warriors on fourth down with a big hit inches shy of the marker courtesy of freshman safety Jeremy Vincent and junior defensive tackle Steven McGugan.
After back-to-back Winn rushes of seven and then 15 yards for the Warriors on their next possession, they burned the Maroons on play-action. Junior quarterback Seth Peters faked the handoff before unleashing a tightly-thrown spiral that fell perfectly into the breadbasket of his sophomore wide receiver Ben Luedtke, who was dashing up the left side of the field and into the end zone for a 54-yard throw and catch. The extra point gave Hendrix a 7-0 lead. It marked the first points UChicago's defense has allowed in the first quarter this year.
After a Maroon three-and-out that included a third-down sack, Hendrix took over on the UChicago punt. The Warriors marched all the way down the field from their own 33, never gaining more than 16 yards on a single play, then punched the ball into the end zone with a 14-yard pass to junior wide receiver Ethan Hoppe. However, after an offensive hold backed up the extra point, the Warriors were unable to convert the kick, coming away with six points and a 13-0 advantage.
The Maroons took over on their 27-yard line with 1:27 remaining in the first quarter. Junior quarterback Burke Moser picked up 18 yards on a throw to senior wide receiver Sam Coleman. On the first play of the second quarter, facing a 3rd and 5, Moser connected with sophomore wide receiver Jamie Rieger for a seven-yard pass. Then, on first down, Moser went deep. Throwing up the east side of the field attacking the south end zone, Moser connected with Coleman for a 43-yard touchdown. The extra point cut the deficit to six, 13-7.
With 9:15 left in the second quarter, Hendrix gained possession on its own 35-yard line. A short nine-yard catch to Luedtke was dwarfed on the next play when Peters connected with his big wide receiver again, who tip-toed to the UChicago three-yard line. Winn scored on the ensuing rush and the score increased to 20-7 in favor of the visitors.
Moser was picked off twice in Hendrix territory over the next five possessions with one coming off a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage. The Warriors punted their next four possessions after Winn's touchdown, keeping the margin locked at 13.
The Maroons took over on their 13 with 4:50 left in the third quarter. Moser linked up with junior wide receiver Syd Reynolds for 28 yards on first down. A targeting penalty on a helmet-to-helmet hit tacked on an additional 15 yards. After a penalty on the offense and a sack, UChicago faced a 3rd and 27. Moser hooked up with Reynolds again, this time for 15 yards. Though it appeared to be short, another flag appeared on the field after the play. Unsportsmanlike conduct on the defense meant first down for the Maroons.
After a third down was converted on sophomore Chandler Carroll's rush, the Maroons called upon their running back for an unusual tactic: throwing the ball. The bit of trickery worked as Carroll found senior tight end Nathan Massey for a 20-yard touchdown. UChicago pulled back within one score at 20-14.
Hendrix sparked their offense again facing the slim margin. On the third play of the next drive, Hendrix cleared out the left side and Peters found Winn on a misdirection feed for 74 yards and a touchdown. The connection opened the lead back up to 27-14.
The Maroons rebounded right back. They marched up the field, starting at their 32. Moser hit Massey for consecutive completions of 16 and 20 yards. Carroll carried it up the gut for 10 and Moser found Reynolds for 18 yards, bringing the ball down to the Hendrix 9. Carroll continued his hard running and barreled in from nine yards out. UChicago's deficit was trimmed once again to 27-21.
The UChicago defense came up big on the next drive, forcing a three-and-out. A short Hendrix punt of 15 yards gave the Maroons good field position at the opposing 42-yard line. The Maroons came through on third down with a 27-yard completion to Coleman. Then Carroll got just enough on a 4th and 2, giving the Maroons 1st and Goal from the 4-yard line. A short run and two incompletions led to fourth down once again. Carroll was stopped inches short of the goal line, turning the ball over on downs.
The Maroons didn't get to touch the ball again. Hendrix took over on its own 1-yard line with 8:15 left in the fourth and drove meticulously up the field. The game clock eventually ran out on the UChicago 20 after a fourth-down conversion.
Third down proved successful for both teams. They combined to convert 14 of 30 overall (47 percent). UChicago ended up with 433 yards of total offense (366 passing, 67 rushing) and Hendrix finished with 547 total yards (318 passing, 229 rushing).
Moser threw for a career-high 343 yards on the afternoon. He completed 22 of 41 for a touchdown and two interceptions. Coleman led the way for the receivers, catching the ball eight times for 166 yards and a score. Reynolds made six receptions for 108 yards and Massey had four catches to go with 66 yards and his touchdown. Carroll carried the ball 23 times for 73 yards and one touchdown.
On defense, the Maroons recorded nine tackles for loss overall. Junior linebacker Jackson Garrey paced the unit with a season-high 15 tackles – his fourth double-digit tackle performance of the year. He added two tackles for loss. Vincent was next on the team with nine tackles. Junior defensive linemen Alec Miller and Eddie Giannina posted seven tackles and two tackles for loss each.
- Saturday, October 31 – Sewanee University at UChicago, 12 PM