CHICAGO – An early 10-point deficit didn't faze the University of Chicago football team: Instead, it just ignited an offensive barrage, as the Maroons used 480 total yards of offense to down Lake Forest College, 27-10, in Saturday's Midwest Conference nondivisional battle at Stagg Field.
The Maroons' running back duo of Nicholas D'Ambrose (151 yards on 22 attempts) and his junior cohort Mike Martinson (121 yards on 13 carries) led the way, including a Martinson 66-yard, second-quarter scoring scamper down the sideline that gave the Maroons (1-2) the lead for good with 2:09 to go in the frame.
Senior wideout Dante Nepa had one of his biggest games of the season to cue the Maroons in the air, as the 6-foot-4 fourth-year caught five balls for 62 yards – two of them touchdowns. Senior Marco Cobian, in his first start of 2019 behind center, finished a solid 15-of-22 with 180 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
After after giving up 10 points in the first nine minutes, the UChicago defense found its reserve and shut out the Foresters (2-1) the rest of the way, led by junior Jackson Ross (14 tackles, half sack), senior Henry Winebrake (10 tackles, half sack) and senior Ben Christensen, who delivered seven tackles, a sack, four tackles for loss and forced a fumble.
UChicago also forced two turnovers – Bill Rotnicki picked off a Lake Forest pass early in the third quarter to set up a Cobian-to-Will Seelman 45-yard touchdown pass (and create the final score); and a Christensen hit on the Lake Forest quarterback that forced the fumble that teammate Zach Atiyeh picked up to add to his nine tackles for the day.
Lake Forest seemed to find its stride early. After a quick UChicago 3-and-out, the Foresters used a nine-play, 63-yard opening drive that ended with a Bill Degnan 20-yard keeper that resulted in the visitors' lone touchdown of the game. The Maroons offense was forced into another three-and-out on the ensuing possession and the Foresters again capitalized, driving the ball 40 yards and coming away with a 39-yard field goal.
UChicago's first successful drive – at 15-plays and 63-yards didn't result in any points, as a missed field goal left it 10-0 with 14:04 to go in the second quarter. After a UChicago defensive stop, the Maroons' offense finally found its groove. Cobian completed two big pass plays – a 19-yard completion to D'Ambrose and a 16-yarder to Nepa – and then found Nepa in the end zone for his first score of the game with 3:23 to go before the half.
With the tide turned, the Maroons' defense again held its ground – forcing the Foresters to punt after a Ross Martin sack on 3rd-and-13. It was then Martinson's time to shine. With UChicago facing a 4th-and-1 at their own 34, the junior broke through the line and ran it 66 yards to the end zone to put the Maroons ahead, 13-10, a score that would last into the half.
D'Ambrose would rattle off another 64-yard run on the Maroons' first drive in the third that would set up Nepa's next score, a 3-yard pitch and catch from Cobian with 10:52 to go in the frame to make it 20-10, UChicago.
Minutes later, Rotnicki's pick quickly gave the ball back to the Maroon offense, who capitalized nicely: to the tune of a Cobian 45-yard touchdown pass to junior Will Seelman, just his second of his career. The defenses – and the UChicago run game – took over after that, as the Maroons ran out the clock in the fourth quarter to bring home their first victory of 2019.
UChicago outgained the Foresters by a 480-277 margin, including 300-165 on the ground (6.3 yards per carry average). The Maroons totaled 23 first downs and punted just twice – those two in the first quarter.
- Saturday, Oct. 5: UChicago at Beloit, 1 PM CT