CHICAGO — The University of Chicago football team struggled to reach the end zone on Saturday in a 21-0 loss to visiting Simpson College on a blustery day at Stagg Field.
The Maroons fell to 0-2 going into their bye week while the Storm improved to 1-1.
Several crucial defensive stops were not enough as the UChicago offense was bottled up on drives, converting 1 of 15 third-down conversions and mustering 189 total yards. Simpson gained 435 yards while running 28 more offensive plays.
Sophomore George Krantz began the game at quarterback, completing 7 of 21 passes for 45 yards with one interception. First-year Jeffrey Jackson took over in the second half, racking up 83 yards on nine completions from 13 attempts and one interception. Sophomore running back Vittorio Tricase led the rushing attack with 11 carries for 42 yards. First-year wide receiver Jacob Jackson hauled in five passes for 42 yards while senior wideout Trevor Anderson gained 38 yards on four catches.
Sophomore defensive lineman Jackson Ross made 16 tackles and blocked a kick. Junior linebacker Zack Atiyeh (13), sophomore defensive back Ryan Montgomery (12) and senior lineman Mike McGinley (11) also contributed double-digit totals in the defensive effort. Montgomery snagged a spectacular interception off a deflection from senior safety Jeremy Vincent.
The Maroons halted Simpson's opening drive but were forced into a three-and-out after a punt pinned the hosts back barely ahead of their own goal line. The exchange of punts left Simpson in good field position, as the Storm began their second drive at the UChicago 48-yard line. Simpson quickly advanced into the red zone before the Maroon defense stiffened. However, on 4th-and-1, the Storm powered up the middle to earn a fresh set of downs. After two incompletions, Storm quarterback Tanner Krueger connected with receiver Joe McNally over the middle for a touchdown.
Another three-and-out gave Simpson possession just shy of midfield. The Storm advanced into the red zone again before a Maroon defensive stop forced a 35-yard field goal attempt that junior defensive end Ben Christensen blocked, denying Simpson the opportunity to extend its lead.
After a second exchange of punts, Simpson intercepted a pass from Krantz and returned it all the way to the UChicago nine-yard line. A bad snap on first down dragged the Storm backwards and the Maroons held firm once more. Simpson settled for a 41-yard field goal attempt that hooked wide left, leaving the visitors again unable to capitalize on a scoring opportunity.
Late in the second quarter, a long completion to McNally up the sideline put Simpson at the UChicago 10-yard line. The visitors went right back to McNally on the next play and he came down with a jump ball in the end zone, stretching the margin to two scores with 2:32 left in the half.
UChicago still had time to respond before the break. A nice kickoff return from sophomore running back Mike Martinson set up the offense at the 35-yard line. The Maroons entered Simpson territory for the second time after a 20-yard completion from Krantz to Anderson. Further passes could not pick apart the tight coverage and a failed conversion on 4th-and-3 turned the ball over on downs.
After UChicago began the half with its ninth punt of the day, the Maroons found their backs against the wall on defense as a long rush from Storm running back Cam Bunting and a deep ball to McNally placed Simpson's offense inside the ten-yard-line. The Maroon line stuffed two rushing attempts, then McGinley combined with first-year Nathan Alexander to bring down the quarterback. This set up another field goal try. For the second time, the Maroons broke through the middle of the line to block the attempt, this time courtesy of Ross.
The Maroons took over looking to build on the momentum, and Jackson connected with junior receiver Dante Nepa on a play-action pass for a quick first down. Jackson seemed to have gained another after a long third-down scramble, but a holding penalty negated the play and forced a punt after an incompletion.
Simpson pushed forward, leading to a 4th-and-1 at the UChicago 17-yard line where the Maroon defense came up with another crucial stop. But the Storm came through on fourth-and-short on its next possession by breaking through the middle for a 36-yard touchdown run that established a 21-0 lead.
The Storm tried to put the game away in the fourth quarter with a halfback pass, but the trick play backfired as Vincent deflected the ball into the arms of Montgomery for a diving interception.
The defensive highlight energized the offense. Jeffrey Jackson found his rhythm, linking up with Jacob Jackson four times for 45 yards as Tricase evaded the defense for 28 of his own on the ground. Having reached the Simpson 17-yard line, Jackson looked for his brother with a fade in the end zone, but a Simpson defender snatched away the Maroons' best chance to get on the scoreboard. UChicago would not see the ball again as Simpson methodically ran out the clock.
- Saturday, Sept. 22 @ 1:00 PM – Illinois College at UChicago