The Knox College men’s football team (1-5 1-4 MWC) defeated conference foe Beloit College (1-5, 1-4 MWC) in a 31-21 victory Saturday afternoon, the football team’s first victory this season and the first for coach Damon Tomeo as the head coach of the team.
The men started the game by scoring a defensive touchdown off of a Beloit turnover just 53 seconds into the contest. Sophomore Chris Wozny recovered a fumble forced by senior Tom Discher which he then returned for 34 yards and the score.
“Tom Discher stood out far and away from anyone else,” senior Neal Moon said. “He led the team in tackles (with nine), had two sacks and forced the fumble that resulted in the touchdown. He played a heck of a game.”
Two offensive drives later, sophomore quarterback Luke Oosterbaan led the Fire to a score on a 48-yard, 13-play drive. Oosterbaan ran three yards for the score, putting the Fire up by two posessions with 8:13 left in the second quarter.
The Fire were able to respond to Beloit’s first score of the game with one of their own nearly three minutes later. Oosterbaan recorded another rushing touchdown, this time a seven yard run. The run came two plays after a 68 yard dash by Oosterbaan, which is tied for the fifth longest run by a Knox quarterback.
Heading into the half, Knox had a 21-7 lead but knew that they could not let up as the second half began. Senior offensive lineman Jeremy Ransom spoke on how the team felt at the half, saying, “The energy was high entering halftime. It was the first time this season we’ve had the lead going into the locker room, and it showed with the energy inside. We were feeding off everyone’s energy to keep it up in the second half, while not getting complacent because we had the lead at halftime. We all knew we had to keep playing or things would turn ugly fast.”
The Prairie Fire recorded another score just six minutes out of the gate, on a carry by senior running back Derek Mortensen, just a week removed from being Knox’s all-time leading rusher, to increase their lead to 28-7.
Beloit again put up a challenge scoring off of a 33 yard run just over four minutes later. This cut the Fire’s lead to 14 points as the lead 28-14. But immediately thereafter Knox ran a 13-play, 75-yard drive, ending with a 23-yard field goal from senior kicker Phil Tallman, which gave the Fire a 31-14 advantage. The kick was the Fire’s last score of the game and the one that sealed the victory.
The Buccaneers scored once more with 2:17 remaining, but their onside kick was unsuccessful as the Fire gained control and ran out the clock to end the contest.
“It’s good to finally get a win,” Oosterbaan said. “We have played in so many close games that just haven’t gone our way, but now this win gives us confidence to play mistake free football from here on out.”
Knox ran for a season high of 278 yards, as both Oosterbaan and Mortensen both rushed for over 100 yards. Oosterbaan recorded a career high, and 4th all-time best for QBs, rushing performance of 131 yards and two touchdowns. Mortensen rushed for 114 yards and a score.
“I think getting the win over Beloit will be very instrumental in getting the Homecoming win over Cornell this Saturday,” Moon said. “It gives the team a big confidence boost going into this week that we have been needing. I also believe the victory will be a big energy boost this week in practice to get us as best prepared for the Rams as mentally and physically possible.”