October 29, 2013

Pacific hands Chicago second loss

The house cat might have been a more appropriate mascot for Chicago on Saturday.

After traveling 1,800 miles across the country to Forest Grove, Oregon, the Maroons (5–2) fell to Pacific (6–1) by a score of 21–6.

Imagine a cat (the South Siders) lying on its back, watching a toy swing down in front of its face, batting at it each time, only to come up empty.

By the numbers, Chicago kept up with the Boxers. They actually outgained the home team in total offense with 302 yards to Pacific’s 284.

“Overall, I thought we played well,” said fourth-year quarterback Vincent Cortina. “ We were able to move the ball effectively and control the clock.”

However, the South Siders drove down the field time and time again, only to be stopped on downs before reaching the end zone. After the first quarter, the score was still 0–0. Pacific realized the Maroons weren’t going to score any time soon and took the initiative, going up 7–0 in the second quarter.

In the third, the Boxers drove down the field again to take a 14–0 lead. Unsatisfied with its offensive play, Chicago responded with its only touchdown drive of the day, traveling 90 yards in 10:34 for six points. Third-year running back Zak Ross-Nash punched the ball in for the Maroons.

Unfortunately, the South Siders’ special teams play hasn’t been too sharp this season, as there have been missed extra points in each of the last four games. And in a 41–34 loss to Rhodes on October 5, Chicago’s special teams allowed multiple blocked punts. Following the Maroons’ only touchdown against Pacific, the extra point was missed, leaving the score at 14–6. Chicago also went 0–1 on field goals.

“I think we played with great effort, but in terms of technique, there’s a lot of room to improve,” said second-year defensive back Vincent Beltrano.

Pacific scored a third touchdown in the fourth quarter, increasing its lead to 21–6, and that score stood for the remainder of the game.

Cortina and the South Siders were left with a sour taste in their mouths.

“I don’t think they did anything special on defense to prevent us from scoring,” Cortina said. “ I think we stopped ourselves and needed to focus throughout our drives. Field position didn’t help us either—we always had long fields to work with, and that decreases your chances of scoring.”

The most remarkable statistic of the day was the time of possession. Chicago controlled the ball for 39:51 to Pacific’s 20:09. That implies a rate of roughly one point per minute of possession for the Boxers and 0.15 points per minute for the South Siders.

Although the Maroons didn’t play poorly, there are certainly glaring issues to fix: the kicking game and scoring in enemy territory.

“I think the number one thing we need to work on is finishing drives and putting points on the board. We need to form a greater sense of urgency,” Cortina said.

In its final three games of the season—all against UAA opponents—Chicago hopes to drive down the field more like aggressive lions than playful house cats.