Knox’s football team (0-7, 0-6) plays the Pioneers of Carroll University (2-5, 2-4) on Saturday at 1 p.m. inside the Knosher Bowl and they know what they need to do.
“We need to use the home crowd and do everything that the coaches tell us to do,” junior linebacker Isaac Juarez said. “We need to stop the run and run the ball down their throats. We need to trust that the other players will do their jobs and just worry about our own assignments.”
If the Prairie Fire trust each other and stop the Pioneers rushing game they can notch their first win of the season, but they also have to crave a victory more than Carroll does.
“It is a matter of want to,” senior offensive lineman Tyler Hopfauf said. “We have to want to win the game more than they do and we have to want to execute more than they do. We have to come out against Carroll and get it done. We have a lot of things to prove.”
Carroll — 0-3 in road games — is coming to the ‘Burg after hosting the Green Knights of St. Norbert College (6-1, 5-1), who are ranked number two in the Midwest Conference (MWC). The Pioneers had a 20-0 lead at halftime over the Green Knights but were shut down in the second half and lost to St. Norbert by a score of 28-20.
Knox comes into the game after an encounter with the Vikings of Lawrence University (1-5, 1-5) in Appleton, Wis. at the Banta Bowl.
“It was a battle,” senior defensive end Maurice McDavid said. “The great thing about it was we were both incredibly hungry and knew one of us was going to come out with a win. Unfortunately, it wasn’t us.”
The Vikings defeated the Prairie Fire by a score of 17-13.
“To be point blank, it was a game where we did not execute on offense like we should have,” Hopfauf said. “We could have played faster and been more aggressive. Our mental game was not that sharp.”
Like Carroll, Knox let a halftime lead slip away last Saturday.
At halftime, the Prairie Fire had a 7-3 lead over Lawrence thanks to a first quarter two-yard touchdown run by senior Tighe Burke, who had five rushes for 11 yards, and an extra point by freshman Ryan Stefanczyk.
The Vikings scored their three points in the second quarter on a 25-yard field goal by freshman Cody Robel.
Lawrence struck first in the third quarter on a five-yard touchdown run by junior Jeremiah Johnson, who finished the game with 31 rushing yards on 13 attempts. Robel’s extra point attempt failed.
Five minutes and six seconds later, Knox scored on an 18-yard pass from freshman quarterback Mike Pinter — who went 7 of 14 for 107 yards with two interceptions and had 14 yards rushing — to senior running back Brent Newman. The Prairie Fire went for two, but Pinter was stuffed by the Vikings defense when he tried to run the ball in and Knox had a 13-9 lead.
But the Prairie Fire did not have it for long.
Twelve seconds after the failed two-point conversion, Lawrence freshman Nate Nelson scored on a 73-yard kickoff return, which was the Vikings first kickoff return for a touchdown since 2007. Vikings head coach Chris Howard decided to try a two-point conversion of his own and senior quarterback Nick Maxam converted with a pass to Nelson.
Neither team found pay dirt in the fourth quarter and the Vikings found themselves with their first win this season. Lawrence’s win over Knox snapped a 15-game MWC losing streak. Their defense held the Prairie Fire to 196 total yards, marking the second consecutive week the Vikings held their opponent to less than 200 yards.