After three weeks of close losses, Chicago handed Bethany (W.V.) a convincing 31-17 defeat. Bethany (6-3), could never catch Chicago (5-3), who made fewer mistakes than in previous weeks and moved the ball 491 yards on Saturday for a remarkable 6.6 yards per play. It was an especially impressive win for Chicago because they dominated a quality team on the road.
The win guaranteed head coach Dick Maloney his fifth consecutive winning season, a feat that Chicago football last accomplished under Amos Alonzo Stagg some 85 years ago. While the Maroons are out of contention for the UAA and the NCAA playoffs, they will certainly fight hard for a very respectable six win season next Saturday at home against Benedictine.
Third-year Josh Dunn, one of the top passers in division III football, completed 28 passes for 367 yards and four touchdowns. Fourth-year wide receiver Brian Gutbrod caught 12 passes for 141 yards, and pulled down two touchdowns. Second-year wide receiver Jim Raptis caught five passes for 107 yards, and fourth-year tight end Adam Cushing caught 5 passes for 62 yards.
Second-year Aaron Carlock carried the bulk of the load on the ground for the Maroons, gaining 116 yards on 26 carries. With every phase of the offense effective, Chicago had little trouble scoring and maintaining the lead throughout the game.
Defensively, the Maroons faced a Bethany team firmly committed to running the ball. Halfback Will Anderson of Bethany carried the ball 28 times for 141 yards, and quarterback Jeremy Lacaria displayed limited mobility with his 10 carries for 25 yards. Still, Chicago held Bethany to under 100 net yards of passing offense on the day. Without an effective passing game, Bethany was unable to catch up since they could only complete 12 of 24 attempts, with one interception by fourth-year cornerback Nick Hannigan in the first quarter. Despite Bethany's commitment to the run, Chicago managed to control the ball for 33:21 of the contest, which helped them to maintain the lead and eliminate opportunities for a rush-oriented team to come back.
After Chicago established a 10-0 halftime lead, both offenses opened up in the third quarter. In fact, every drive that began in the third quarter ended in a touchdown: two for Chicago, two for Bethany. However, in the fourth quarter, the Maroons separated themselves by running out the clock, scoring an additional touchdown, and forcing Bethany to turn over the ball on downs in two of their three fourth quarter possessions. Chicago answered Bethany's early fourth-quarter field goal with a touchdown on the ensuing possession, which concluded the scoring and guaranteed Chicago a 31-17 victory.
Unlike the past three weeks, the Maroons made few mistakes, and didn't fall behind early. Clearly, Maloney's teams thrive when they can protect a lead or jump out to an early advantage, as they had done in years past. Against their past three UAA opponents, Chicago's early mistakes forced them to play catch-up. Against Bethany, Chicago dominated every phase of the game, minimized mistakes, and capitalized on Bethany's one-dimensional attack.
Against Benedictine next Saturday, Chicago must seize the early advantage and play smart football. And while the season's early goals are no longer attainable, there is absolutely no shame in a 7-3 season. Chicago's explosive passing offense of 2001 provides an exciting window to the possibilities of next year's squad.