For 45 minutes Saturday afternoon, football's sprint-horses kept the score close. Unfortunately, in the end the Maroons' spirited effort came up short.
In a matchup that head coach Dick Maloney dubbed "the Clydesdales against the sprint-horses," DePauw (2-1) rode a strong second half to beat Chicago 33-9 in Greencastle on Saturday. The Maroons trailed by just six points at halftime, but in the end the host Tigers' power running game was too much for the Maroons to handle. The loss dropped Chicago's record to 0-4 on the season.
DePauw withstood a determined effort from Chicago's defense and a career day from third-year wide receiver Micah Dawson to pull away in the fourth quarter for the victory. Second-year running back Jeremiah Marks led the way with a 141-yard rushing effort.
Featuring a "three yards and a cloud of dust" offense that would have made Woody Hayes smile, DePauw kept the ball on the ground all day. The stingy Maroons stayed right with them, bending but not breaking on defense, and putting together a few productive drives on offense. However, with the talented Marks in the backfield behind a big and physical offensive line, the Tigers were able to rush for 316 yards.
"They're a big and physical team," Maloney said. "I like the way we competed. We didn't give up a big play on defense."
The Maroons had several opportunities in the first three quarters to seize momentum and take the lead, but could not convert. Chicago was stopped twice on fourth-down and short-yardage situations in Tiger territory in the first half, and a successful onside kick following a third-quarter touchdown was called back due to an illegal contact penalty.
The first quarter of action featured long but unsuccessful drives by both teams. After Chicago punted on their first possession, DePauw methodically marched down the field, but fourth-year quarterback Ross Wiethoff's pass was intercepted in the end zone by first-year defensive back Todd Young. Chicago third-year quarterback Matt Rinklin's eleven-yard scramble on third and 10 gave the Maroons a first down at the DePauw 24-yard line, but the drive stalled there as second-year running back Mike Serio was stopped short of the first down on fourth and six.
Picking up right where they left off, the Tigers drove 84 yards on 16 plays, culminating in Marks' two-yard touchdown run to go up 6-0 with 11:54 left in the second quarter. That was all either team could muster in the first half of play, as the squads exchanged turnovers on successive possessions, and DePauw third-year kicker Tyler Mallory missed a 30-yard field goal attempt with 4:33 to play.
DePauw came out energized for the second half, scoring touchdowns on their first two possessions to go up 19-0. Marks found the end zone on a two-yard scamper, and five plays later, second-year Dorrius Ford broke free for a 48-yard touchdown run.
With their backs against the wall, the Maroons mounted a small comeback attempt. Fourth-year cornerback Patrick Conway picked off a Wiethoff pass, and the offensive unit capitalized as fourth-year kicker Mike Morzenti hit a 32-yard field goal to put the Maroons on the board.
Given great field position by a DePauw penalty on their next possession, Chicago scored again on a five-yard pass from Rinklin to fourth-year wide receiver Colin Carrier, to cut the deficit to 19-9.
That was as close as the Maroons would get, as the DePauw rushing attack wore down the speedy but smaller Chicago defense. The Tigers chewed up the clock and scored twice more on their final few possessions to put the game out of reach.
"They're a very good football team. They have a chance to be in the national playoffs," Maloney said. "We played well for three quarters and six minutes."
Dawson caught five passes for 147 yards in a losing effort for Chicago. Matt Rinklin completed 16 of 35 passes for 233 yards and one touchdown and led the team in rushing with 30 yards.
The Maroons travel to St. Louis to take on Wash U on Saturday. The victorious team wins the Founders' Cup, but if history is any indication, there will be more than pride at stake. For the past seven seasons, the team that wins that matchup has gone on to win the UAA title. The Bears have won the last four meetings.