The Knox College football team continued their losing streak this season after dropping a road contest against Lake Forest College 34 to 13 on Saturday.
The loss, Knox’s eighteenth in a row, came despite another solid effort from senior kick returner Mike Schroeder, who broke the Knox record for most career kickoff return yards.
“I’ve been given lots of opportunities to have the ball in my hands, and I have always tried to make the most of each one,” Schoeder said. “Luckily for me, I’ve had great help from my teammates blocking on the kickoff return teams so I’ve been able to get enough yards.”
The record had been previously held by Neil Magruder ’05, who compiled 1, 526 return yards in four years. Schroeder is now one ahead at 1,527 yards.
Unfortunately for Knox, the rest of the game did not go as well. Lake Forest opened the scoring midway through the first quarter on a run yard run by Al Mitchell.
After a 22 yard return by Schroeder, freshmen quarterback Luke Oosterbaan led the Fire on a 14 play scoring drive that went for 72 yards and almost eight minutes.
On the second play of the second quarter, Oosterbaan found junior tight-end Neal Moon on a throwback screen for a 21 yard touchdown pass to give Knox a 7-6.
“We played an amazing first half, partly because we were in control of all of the momentum,” Moon said.
The momentum swung even more in Knox’s favor on the ensuing kickoff as Prairie Fire recovered a surprise onside kick by junior Phil Tallman.
“The coaches had a plan going into the game to make decisions that would put [us] in a position to dominate,” Moon said.
Though Knox would not score on the possession following the onside kick, the Prairie Fire would later turn in a nine play, 53-yard scoring drive. Oosterbaan completed his second touchdown pass of the game to complete the drive, this time connecting with freshman wide receiver Ilir Emini from 15 yards out to take a 13-6 lead.
“[We were] strong in the first half. Our defense had some key stops, and the offense was putting points on the board,” Emini said.
But after controlling the first half of the game, Knox could not hold off the Foresters’ attack in the second half. Lake Forest scored 28 second half points, while Knox could not find the end zone.
“When you go into halftime up by a touchdown, you have to expect the other team to adjust and bounce back. We just didn’t respond the way we needed to finish the game,” Moon said.
Despite not being able to find the end zone the rest of the second half, Oosterbaan played what was probably his best game of the season so far. The freshman quarterback was 18-34 from the field for 194 yards and two touchdowns.
“Luke is picking up the offense very quickly. Just like any young quarterback he needs to work on his consistency,” head coach Chad Eisele said. “That was his first real start as a quarterback and he played outstanding for being a freshman. He made a few mistakes, threw an interception but the reality is that he had a really good game. There [was] some good stuff in there.”
Nine of Oosterbaan’s passes went to junior wide-receiver Dustin Armstrong, who finished the game with 114 receiving yards.
In addition to breaking the return yardage record Schroeder also notched an interception on defense. The versatile senior has played on both sides of the ball in his career, earning the respect of his teammates and coaches.
“[Schroeder] is a phenomenal athlete. He is the type of player that we can put in any position and he will succeed. Mike always plays his heart out ,and I know he leaves it all out on the field at all times. I really look up to Schroeder, and he is a great impact to our school and team. I hope to follow in his footsteps,” Emini said.
“Mike played well as he has all year. He gives you everything he has every time. He should own that record for a long time” said Eisele.
This upcoming weekend, the Prairie Fire (0-4, 0-3 MWC) takes on Ripon College (0-4, 0-3 MWC). Both teams will be looking for their first win of the season.
“We are going on the road to play a team [we have] not beaten in a long time, but very well should have [beaten] last year,” Eisele said. “Ripon runs the triple option as well as anyone in the country so we will have to focus on stopping them from having big plays offensively and our offense will need to keep the ball out of their hands.”