ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Playing its season finale on the road at Francis Field, the University of Chicago football team fell to conference rival Washington University-St. Louis 37-23 on Saturday afternoon.
The Maroons and the Bears finish the regular season with identical 6-4 overall records and 5-3 marks in the Southern Athletic Association (SAA). They tied for fourth place in their inaugural season in the SAA.
Sophomore running back Chandler Carroll eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the third time this season, rumbling for 104 yards on 30 carries. After back-to-back performances against Centre College and Birmingham-Southern College saw Carroll run for 596 combined yards early in the year, teams have made a point of keeping last year's University Athletic Association (UAA) Rookie of the Year from burning them. Saturday's performance gave Carroll 1,060 rushing yards for the season, which is the eighth time in the modern era that a Maroon has crossed 1,000 yards.
Down 7-0 after WashU's opening drive, UChicago began on its own 24-yard line. The Maroons moved the ball effectively early and often, gaining 10 or more yards three times on the drive. More importantly, they only had one play – an incomplete pass – go for no gain. UChicago marched down the field, picking up gains of mainly five to seven yards at will, and ultimately punching the ball in from 14 yards out through the air from junior quarterback Burke Moser to senior wide receiver Cole Thoms. However, the Maroons could not convert the extra point, kicking off down 7-6.
The touchdown pass by Moser was his 21st of the year, which tied Josh Dunn and Marshall Oium for the most single-season touchdown passes in school history.
Trailing 14-6 on their next drive, the Maroons were able to move the ball into WashU territory. However, facing 3rd and 8, Moser was picked off. Sophomore linebacker Marco Martin returned the favor by intercepting Bears quarterback J.J. Tomlin on the subsequent possession. But Moser's next pass attempt was also hauled in by the defense.
Two WashU field goals later, UChicago found its groove on offense in the final two minutes of the half. Moser dropped back to pass 10-straight times in a hurry-up effort. His first-down throws included 17 yards to senior wide receiver Sam Coleman, 11 yards to Carroll and five yards to sophomore wide receiver Jamie Rieger. The Maroon quarterback expertly spread the ball around on the drive, employing the deep list of skill position players. After the drive stalled at fourth-and-goal, senior kicker Karol Kurzydlowski made it 20-9, putting the pigskin through the uprights from 26 yards out heading into the break.
Kurzydlowski was called upon again midway through the third quarter and responded with the same result. The senior connected from 32 yards out to narrow the lead again at 20-12.
However, at that point the WashU offense and defense responded to the Maroon threat. The Bears came down the field and hit a field goal and then on the possession after that, they found the end zone to go up 18.
UChicago got back to its scoring ways in the final quarter, but the deficit proved too large. Kurzydlowski connected on his third field goal of the afternoon early in the fourth period from 23 yards. A three-yard Carroll touchdown run provided the final points of the day on the next Maroon possession.
Despite his three interceptions, Moser had a big day through the air. The junior quarterback threw 66 times, completing 41 passes for 394 yards and a touchdown. Six different Maroons caught at least three passes from Moser, with Coleman (122 yards on nine catches), Rieger (89 yards on nine catches) and senior tight end Nathan Massey (87 yards on nine catches) receiving the lion's share. Carroll, in addition to his 104 yards on the ground, caught five passes for 34 yards.
The 66 passing attempts broke the school record for a game, which was previously held by Marc Zera with 63 versus Washington-St. Louis in 2004. Moser's final tally of 2,597 passing yards is the second-highest single-season mark in school history, trailing only Oium (2,605 yards in 2009).
Senior safety Greg Thome and senior cornerback Vincent Beltrano led the tackling effort for the Maroons by finishing with 11 apiece. Senior linebacker Nick Pielech made eight tackles and forced a fumble. Junior linebacker Hayden Harrow ended up with five tackles, including one tackle for loss.