CHICAGO – The University of Chicago football team came up clutch when it mattered at critical points during a 33-26 Homecoming victory over Rhodes College on Saturday.
The Maroons (3-3 overall, 3-2 SAA) won the fourth-annual Blues Bowl for the third-straight year. The Lynx dropped to 3-3 overall and 1-3 in the Southern Athletic Association (SAA).
UChicago's big plays in the big moments stood out in the afternoon contest played in front of a standing-room only crowd at Stagg Field. The home team went 4-for-4 on fourth downs and forced five turnovers, including two in the fourth quarter.
Consistent winds that reached 20 miles per hour made throwing more adventurous than normal, as even shorter passes were blown off course. UChicago's pass-heavy attack fought through the conditions and scored on its opening two possessions of the game. Senior quarterback Burke Moser completed a 27-yard pass on 3rd-and-24 to keep the initial drive alive, and junior running back Chandler Carroll picked up the first down on 4th-and-1 in the red zone. The Maroons picked up three points via a 32-yard field goal from sophomore kicker Mike Kurzydlowski.
Junior cornerback Andrew Beytagh ended the subsequent Rhodes possession near midfield with his third interception of the year. Carroll capitalized on the miscue with an elusive 28-yard touchdown burst through the defense to put UChicago ahead 10-0.
The run of play went against the Maroons in the second quarter. The Lynx scored on a 41-yard touchdown throw and then tied the game with a booming 49-yard field goal. The Maroons recaptured the lead the very next drive, which lasted 15 plays and traversed 84 yards. Kurzydlowski converted a 24-yard field goal to put UChicago up 13-10.
Rhodes looked to go ahead as the second quarter wound down, marching all the way to the 11-yard line. However, a tipped pass at the line was intercepted by freshmen defensive end Ben Christensen to end the threat going into halftime.
On the third quarter's initial drive, Carroll accounted for 30 yards on three plays before Moser connected with sophomore wide receiver Andrew Falk for 31 yards. Another fourth down and one yard to go situation was given to Carroll, who barreled through for three yards to the two-yard line. On first-and-goal, Moser rolled right and found Falk for the touchdown pass. However, the extra point was blocked and then returned all the way by Rhodes for two points, making the score 19-12.
The Lynx tied the game up with a 12-play, 65-yard possession that ended with a one-yard touchdown run by the quarterback. Once again, UChicago had an answer with 16 plays and 75 yards. Carroll ran the ball four-straight times to start things out and Moser took to the air for the remainder. The home side faced 4th-and-16 in Rhodes territory and decided to go for it. Moser rewarded the gamble with 17-yard completion to freshman wide receiver Dante Nepa for a first down. The drive was capped by a perfectly timed toss-and-catch from Moser to senior wide receiver Syd Reynolds, who kept his feet in bounds before tumbling out of the left side of the end zone from 13 yards out on fourth down.
Undeterred, Rhodes kept chipping away with chunks of yardage. The Lynx reached the UChicago one-yard line on their first drive of the fourth quarter. But the Maroons came up large with a goal-line stand. Senior linebacker Jackson Garrey forced a fumble at the goal line that was recovered by Rhodes. The very next play, the running back fumbled the handoff exchange and Christensen pounced on it to secure the turnover.
The visitors eventually tied the game with an 11-yard rush midway through the fourth quarter, knotting the score at 26-26. UChicago got the ball back and needed only eight plays to march 73 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. Sophomore wide receiver Trevor Anderson hauled in a reception in the red zone and avoided a cadre of defenders with a winding route to the end zone for the 18-yard score.
Rhodes was driving for the equalizer in the final minutes of the game, ultimately reaching UChicago's 33-yard line. Garrey then came straight up the middle untouched on a blitz, sacked the quarterback and forced a fumble that was recovered at midfield by freshman linebacker Zachary Atiyeh. The Maroons then kneeled the ball three times to run out the clock and send the capacity crowd home happy.
Moser surpassed the 300-yard passing mark for the fourth-straight game. He completed 25 of 45 passes for 332 yards and three touchdowns. The Lynx got penetration throughout the game and sacked him five times. Reynolds (4 catches for 62 yards), Anderson (3 catches for 69 yards) and Falk (3 catches for 44 yards) all recorded one touchdown apiece. Carroll totaled 153 rushing yards on 27 carries with one touchdown, while also catching seven passes for 42 yards.
In his first career start, Atiyeh led the way with a career-high 11 tackles, one fumble recovery and one tackle for loss. Garrey's nine tackles included two forced fumbles and one sack to go with one pass breakup. Freshman safety Bill Rotnicki made nine tackles and one tackle for loss.
Junior defensive end Peter Casey was a disruptive force on the line all day. He tallied four tackles, four quarterback hurries, two pass breakups and one tackle for loss. Sophomore defensive tackle Michael McGinley also harassed the back field with four tackles, two tackles for loss and three quarterback hurries.
- Saturday, Oct. 22 – UChicago at Hendrix College, 1 PM