The Prairie Fire were able to tighten up the offense in a thrilling come-from-behind, 23-20 victory against Carleton College. Knox has made it clear where it’s most comfortable on offense; sophomore Matt McCaffrey has put up a total of 74 passes over the first two games, netting 503 yards and three touchdowns.
McCaffrey also has a pair of favorite targets in seniors Matthew Hemmingsen and Illir Emini, who have hauled in 27 of McCaffrey’s 42 completions. In the case of Hemmingsen, it’s easy to see why. Standing at 6′ 4″ and 240 pounds, Hemmingsen is a virtual bowling ball who was able to break several long gains off quick passes from McCaffrey by virtue of multiple broken tackles. Emini’s story practically writes itself; having set the record for receptions last season, he picked up where he left off last year, as bounced off what seemed like dozens of defenders and offered McCaffrey a security blanket throughout the game.
The real sparks came in the fourth quarter, which featured a forced fumble, a recovered onside kick, and a pair of touchdowns for the Prairie Fire to turn a 20-10 deficit into a 23-20 Knox victory.
McCaffrey was the star of the comeback, as he put up 282 yards and a touchdown through the air, adding both fourth quarter touchdowns on the ground to punctuate Knox’s victory.
On a more somber note, the Prairie Fire’s major weakness has also made itself apparent. The defense has given up over 500 yards on the ground through the first two games, and often looked sluggish and unable to catch the agile Carleton backs. Something must change, unless the Prairie Fire can pull a rabbit out of their hat on a weekly basis like they did against Carleton.
Still, the win is a note of optimism after a sour season opener against Eureka last week. The victory avenged a 40-14 beatdown against Carleton last year, and was Knox’s first win against the Knights since 1977.