Bigger, faster, stronger. The University of Chicago’s 45–10 blowout victory against Knox College was proof that this team really is different from the ones we have seen in past years. While everyone has done their part on offense, the rushing attack by the Maroons has shouldered much of the load, and that trend continued Saturday afternoon at Stagg Field.
In the first quarter, senior running back Nicholas D’Ambrose capped a nine-play drive with a nine-yard touchdown run to put the Maroons on top. It was the first of three touchdowns of the day for a running back group that has found little resistance four games into the season. Head coach Chris Wilkerson said, “There are a lot of factors driving our success on the ground so far this fall. We stress being efficient with the running game and trying to get a hat on a hat,” attributing their success on the ground to the “[t]he offensive line, super backs and wide receivers… taking pride in playing physical football” and a talented backfield.
The running backs were not the only ones who showed up to play on Saturday. The passing game, once again, showed up in a big way. Quarterback Philip Martini completed 17 of his 25 passing attempts, 3 of which resulted in a touchdown. His second passing touchdown was arguably the biggest one of the game, as he found senior wide receiver Caden Kalinowski in the end zone on a last-second Hail Mary pass to end the first half. It was only Kalinowski’s fourth reception of the year and his second touchdown of the year.
Martini’s day was mostly flawless, though his only mistake was costly. Martini threw an interception to Knox linebacker Ean Rau, who returned it 92 yards for a pick 6. However, Martini and the Maroon offense answered with a seven-play drive that resulted in a rushing touchdown from Marcelo Alanis. When asked about the importance of picking each other up, Wilkerson said “We certainly stress being able to feed off each other and playing complementary football.”
While the offense has been the story (rightfully so, as they are averaging an impressive 52 points per game from just their first four games.), the defense has been just as vital to the team’s 4–0 start. “This last week our defensive had the challenge of defending the triple-option attack and that requires some adjustments from your base defensive alignments and techniques,” said Wilkerson. “We know every week it’s important to be successful on both lines of scrimmage. Our defense prides themselves on attempting to limit our opponents’ running game.” The defense succeeded in doing so, holding Knox to a measly 3.3 yards per rush. The Prairie Fire offense did not have any success through the air either, completing just one pass on six attempts, including an interception to sophomore linebacker Steven Arellano.
The Knox College Prairie Fire falls to 0–3 following their second blowout loss in as many weeks. They are slated to take on a Beloit College squad that is two weeks removed from a 66–0 defeat at the hands of the Maroons.
As for the Maroons, they are looking to continue their hot start as they face a 3–1 Monmouth (Ill.) team on the road. This will serve as a big test for the Maroon defense, which has only allowed roughly 11 points per game thus far. The Monmouth offense has averaged 40 points per game on offense after a tough opening week loss at the hands of Wartburg College. While Wilkerson did not give any specific details on what his team needed to work on ahead of this big matchup, he said “there are always tons of details and technique things we need to improve on. [W]e are chasing perfection, knowing full well we are not going to catch it. But we are going to relentlessly chase it, because in the process we will catch excellence.”