The Knox Prairie Fire hopes the rest of their season is as successful as the first half of their first home game. The team started 10-0 lead over Illinois College in the first half, ending at halftime with a lead of 17-7. However, the Fire gave up 35 points in the second half, dropping the contest to the Blueboys, 42-24.
“We ran the ball well, and the defense did well against the run,” head football coach Andy Gibbons said. “We also played very good special teams.” The Prairie Fire ended the game with a total of 292 rushing yards.
“Coming out for the second half, it was very important that we stop them in the first drive,” Gibbons said. “We just couldn’t get it done. We turned the ball over three straight times, and that just can’t happen.”
With Knox behind 21-17, junior Dan Kizior scored an 80-yard touchdown on a kickoff return— his first return for a touchdown in his Knox College career.
Some other key offensive players were freshman running back Jonas Mack, who had nine carries for 104 yards, and freshman fullback Derek Mortensen, who had 13 carries for 92-yards, including two touchdowns.
On the defensive side of the game, senior Joe Garbin led with four tackles, and senior Jordan Raess had one interception. Gibbons pointed out great efforts from junior linebacker Kevin Beck and junior defensive back Calvin Zirkle that also positively added to the game. Also mentioned by Gibbons were freshman kicker Ryan Stefanczyk, who made a 21-yard field goal attempt as well as successfully scored the team three extra points, and sophomore Sam Frank, who completed very impressive kickoffs.
With Ripon College coming up on Saturday, the team is working hard to prepare for the overnight trip. “We’ve had too many turnovers on the offensive side of the ball and not enough on the defensive side of the ball,” Gibbons said.
Even with the first loss at Eureka (28-13) and the most recent loss at home, the Prairie Fire still have high hopes and tremendous expectations of the team for the remainder of the season.
“We’re still excited,” Gibbons said. “We’re still working hard and we still have faith in our team.”