A journey to Beloit, Wis. turned into a bit of a nightmare for the Knox College football team as they faced off against the Buccaneers in the fourth game of the Prairie Fire season. Despite heading into the match up with high hopes, Knox was blown out, 38-0, and were forced to head home with another loss to contemplate.
The game started off well enough, reminiscent of the previous week’s game against Ripon. After kicking off to open the game, the Prairie Fire defense clamped down and sophomore corner Calvin Zirkle, picked off a pass, giving the Fire the ball. Unfortunately, there was no score to be had this time, and the Beloit defense responded in kind, forcing a quick punt. This proved to be a running theme for the Fire throughout the day as they were held to nothing of note, with every drive ending in either a punt or a turnover.
Beloit struck first in the opening quarter with a grinding drive down the field, forcing the Knox defense back bit by bit. Throughout the first half, Beloit was able to muster only one rush of more than seven yards. Unfortunately, it was one for 55 yards, following a fumble by the Knox offense, that led to a touchdown. That score, along with an earlier Beloit field goal left Knox heading into the locker room down 17-0 at the half.
“Going into the second half, we still felt like we could win it,” said sophomore running back Danny Kizior. “We were only down by 17, with a couple mistakes, and we thought we could do it.”
Turnovers proved to be the downfall for Knox throughout the day, totaling five fumbles in all, with four lost, and a pick thrown to give the ball away.
The second half started decently as Knox was held to a punt, but then forced a fumble that was picked up by junior linebacker George Nicholson. An earlier scooped fumble by fellow backer, junior Aaron Juarez, gave Knox several chances to make something happen. “We just couldn’t capitalize,” noted Kizior later.
A prime case of failing to capitalize, the loose ball Nicholson grabbed was quickly given back as sophomore QB Bill Meyer was stripped on the very next play. The next Beloit series turned into a quick score, running it to 24-0, as Knox faced an even steeper obstacle to overcome. A long field goal late in the third was a chance for the Fire to get up on the board, but senior kicker Jack Dippold dropped it short and Beloit came away with the ball.
The fourth quarter played out as the end score promised, as Knox faced a fired up Beloit team on their way to rolling to a victory. Meyer led a charge into Beloit territory, but was picked off at the 25, and it was all downhill from there. Beloit scored five plays later against an exhausted Knox defense, running it to 31-0. Meyer then fumbled again on his own twelve yard line, and the Bucs took it right back into the end zone, going for it on fourth and four at the Knox six, making the score to 38-0. Knox was unable to do anything after that, and as time expired, the Prairie Fire walked off the field heavy hearted.
“It was a disappointing game,” said Coach Andy Gibbons. “We’ve got to get better. We gave up a lot of yardage, and too many turnovers. We’re beating ourselves, something we have to stop doing.”
Even with the outcome of the game, Gibbons was eternally upbeat, noting that they just have put the right pieces in place and get them to play their part.
“[Tuesday’s] practice was one of the best of the year,” said Gibbons. “It was great of our guys to come out and do that.”
The team is practicing hard for this upcoming week’s game against St. Norbert College, as the top-ranked Green Knights travel to Galesburg to face off at the Knosher Bowl.
“We’re back at home, and it’s a great challenge to face these guys. They’re the best, year in and year out, so we have to come to play.”
As Gibbons pointed out, there are still six games left. The Fire’s focus should be remaining focused and working hard and good things can happen when things fall into place.
Game time for Saturday is 1 p.m.