Last Saturday was a tough day for Knox College, as the men of the gridiron faced off against top-ranked St. Norbert College in a battle that quickly turned into a rout. The seemingly unstoppable Green Knights ran roughshod over the Prairie Fire, and other than a brief respite midway through the first quarter, the Fire were in the hole the entire day and were driven deeper with every down.
“What can you say about St. Norbert?” noted coach Andy Gibbons, “They’re the best in the conference. We battled for the first quarter and a half, but that’s how it goes. We need to show some consistency.”
After going three and out on their first possession, the Fire gave up a TD on a grinding drive, as Norbert forced themselves down the throat of the Knox defense and into the end zone. Knox responded admirably, with a fighting drive of their own, 60 yards down the field, and into the range of senior Jack Dippold’s leg. Dippold put the Fire on the board, leaving the score at 7-3 in St. Norbert’s favor.
Norbert’s next drive resulted in a turnover as QB Rob Berger neglected to look off sophomore Danny Salvato who nabbed his pass out of the air, putting the ball back in Knox’s hands early in the second quarter. From there, the momentum shifted momentarily, as Knox drove downfield, and had a big catch and run by senior captain Grant Guimond for 30 yards on a nice seam route down the middle. The score after the PAT was 10-7 Knox, and it was looking good for the moment.
The lead was shortlived though, as Knox proceeded to allow 28 points in the second quarter alone, tying their season high for most points allowed in a quarter. Norbert closed in topping the 62 points Illinois College hung on Knox three weeks earlier. One play stood out among the thrashing, seemingly coming straight out of NFL Blitz: Norbert QB Berger threw the ball to his wideout, who proceeded to throw it back to the QB as the whole O-line shifted to the left side of the field. As coverage broke down, Berger followed the big men down the field 50 yards for the touchdown. At 28-10, Norbert showed no signs of slowing down.
On Knox’s next possession, sophomore QB Bill Meyer fumbled deep in his own territory, and Norbert grabbed it, taking only two plays to get into the endzone. The score going into halftime was 35-10, and the crowd was silent.
Norbert opened the third quarter with a run back to the 42 and had the ball for all of twenty-two seconds before scoring yet again, leaving Knox down 32 points, at 42-10. The blowout already in effect, still neither team refused to give up, a testament to the lack of sportsmanship on the part of Norbert, and Knox’s gumption.
Another 3-and-out for Knox gave the ball to the Green Knights again. A blown sack and a rambling run down the field by the Norbert QB gave the Knights another touchdown. A 12 play, five minute drive by Knox gave the home team another seven, but Norbert scored three times in the quarter, and the deficit only grew. Heading into the final frame was a score of 56-17, but still the Knox sidelines would not be silenced.
“We made some mistakes with field position,” noted Gibbons. “We gave them some bad punts, not getting it deep, turnovers; it’s hard to win that way.”
Early in the fourth quarter, Meyer mounted a nice little drive downfield, using what has become a much improved and utilized receiving corps, and made it almost to the endzone. But a bad decision gave him a pick in the endzone, and Norbert had the ball at their own 20. Knox forced a Norbert punt, one of only two on the day, and Meyer once again marched down the field, tossing it to senior back Mike Kizior to get the score to 56-24.
Norbert answered though, and took the ball down the field against a visibly exhausted defense, and closed the game out at 63-24 while gaining total 479 yards, marking the worst loss of the season for the Prairie Fire. Undaunted, coach Gibbons saw some light in the wave of darkness.
“Our receiving corps had a great day,” Gibbons said. “Bill [Meyer] had his best day of the year, going 13-25 with a touchdown. We’re getting there. Hopefully quickly.” Despite the loss, Gibbons has not let it affect his preparation for the rest of the season. “The first half of the season is over, and its important for us to just go 1-0 against Grinnell. It’s a huge game, we really need a win.”
The team looks to face the second half with a clean slate, and with any luck, Knox can pull a nice finish out of what has been a disappointing start to the season.