CHICAGO – Playing in torrential rain on Saturday afternoon at Stagg Field, the University of Chicago football team sent out its senior class in style with a punishing 31-0 shutout of conference opponent Sewanee: The University of the South.
Saturday's win improved the Maroons to 6-2 overall (5-2 in the Southern Athletic Association), while dropping the Tigers to 1-7 (0-6 SAA). The Maroons jumped out to a 24-0 lead in the first half before handing the game to their run game and defense. Along with the defensive effort, Sam Coleman was the afternoon's top UChicago storyline – the senior wide receiver caught two touchdowns in the first quarter before bringing back a kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the second half.
Defensively, UChicago limited the visitors to 167 total yards of offense, good for 2.6 yards per play. The only time the Tigers found themselves in the red zone was when the Maroons fumbled the ball in their territory and Sewanee recovered. The host team snagged two interceptions and only allowed six completions on 19 attempts to the Tigers. It also marked UChicago's first shutout since a 38-0 victory over Concordia University Chicago on Sept. 13, 2014.
The Maroons recognized their 14 seniors in a pre-game ceremony on the field in their final home game. This senior class has a cumulative record of 24-13 over the last four years and won the 2014 University Athletic Association title.
A constant downpour was a major factor for both teams all game. Every snap of the slick ball turned into an adventure, especially on punts. The punters barely got a grip before having to quickly boot the ball away before the on-rushing defense could block them. Handoffs from the quarterbacks to the running backs also featured several fumbles on the exchanges.
After forcing a three-and-out, the Maroons took over on their 46-yard line for their first offensive possession of the day. UChicago probed the running game early in the drive, finding some room on a 10-yard carry by sophomore running back Chandler Carroll. Working on the Sewanee 33 and facing second down, Burke Moser dropped back and spotted Coleman running up the seam. The junior quarterback threw it for his teammate to run under and caught the senior wideout in stride for a 33-yard touchdown.
The Maroons took over on their own 20 after the Tigers could not pick up two yards against the UChicago defense on fourth down. The Maroons continued to find immediate success through the air despite the conditions. First, Moser found senior fullback Justin Waney for a 12-yard pass and catch. Then, after two Carroll runs of six and five yards set up another first down, UChicago went back to the air via a 34-yard link up from Moser to senior tight end Nathan Massey. Facing 3rd and 8, Moser went back to his big tight end, zipping a pass to Massey for 16 yards to move the ball to the Tiger five-yard line. After a three-yard Carroll carry, Moser found Coleman who rewarded his quarterback with another score, opening his team's lead to 14-0.
The game's next three possessions ended without first downs. After another fourth-down stop, UChicago got the ball back early in the second quarter on the Sewanee 40-yard line. Facing a fourth down and one yard to go in Tiger territory, the Maroons opted to keep the ball on the ground and Carroll delivered with a seven-yard carry for a first down. After the drive stalled, the Maroons sent senior kicker Karol Kurzydlowski onto the field to attempt to match his career-long field goal from sophomore year of 42 yards. This time, even with the weather raging, he converted again to put the team ahead 17-0.
Senior cornerback Vincent Beltrano received a punt of 33 yards and found room up the sideline for a big 65-yard return to the Sewanee 28. On 3rd and 14, Moser trusted his 6-foot-4 senior wide receiver Cole Thoms to go up and make a play. He floated it up into the end zone for the leaping Thoms, who deflected the pass at the same time as the defender and then caught the ball as he fell onto his back for a highlight-reel 32-yard touchdown. The point after further stretched the Maroon advantage to 24-0.
On the second half's opening kickoff, Coleman broke free up the right side and 87 yards later, he was in the end zone to make it 31-0 Maroons. The hosts did not look back, riding their defense and deploying most of the roster en route to the 31-0 shutout.
Moser was only asked to throw the ball 15 times, completing nine of those passes for 148 yards and three touchdowns. Carroll carried the rock 17 times for 37 yards. Coleman only touched the ball three times in the game and scored on each occasion. The Maroons averaged four yards per play for 213 yards of total offense.
A total of 15 different Maroons recorded at least three tackles. Senior linebacker Nick Pielech (nine tackles) and senior safety Greg Thome (seven tackles) led UChicago in that department. Sophomore defensive end Peter Casey and junior linebacker Jackson Garrey combined on the Maroons' lone sack of the afternoon. Junior linebacker Tim Veselik caught the game's first interception on an intended long ball that fell short, while freshman safety Jeremy Vincent grabbed the game's second interception in the back right corner of the end zone.
- Saturday, November 7 – UChicago at Carnegie Mellon University, 12 PM (ET)