Foresters Finish Season with 31-3 Rout of St. Norbert
The Lake Forest College football team closed out the season with a convincing 31-3 victory over visiting St. Norbert College, the 2013 Midwest Conference champion. Forester senior quarterback Mike Lewis saved his best for last, completing 16 of 22 passes for a career-high 299 yards and three touchdowns.
Lewis hit sophomore wide receiver George Vidas in stride deep down the right sideline and Vidas out-ran the Green Knight defensive back to the end zone for the first touchdown of the game, a 78-yarder late in the first quarter. The score gave the Foresters a 7-3 lead and generated momentum they would never relinquish.
The home team's second touchdown was scored by sophomore safety Pat Clark, who intercepted a pass at the St. Norbert 27-yardline and weaved his way throught the Green Knight offense to the end zone with 6:19 to play in the second quarter. It was Clark's third interception of the season and the league-high 20th for the team.
The Foresters finished off the half with a 10-play, 79-yard drive that ended with a three-yard touchdown pass from Lewis to senoir wideout Mike Peters, who lost control of the ball reaching for the goal line before recovering it in the end zone. The third play of the drive was another deep pass to Vidas down the right sideline for 37 yards on 3rd-and-19 from the Forester 12. Lewis also had a 32-yard completion to freshman tight end Joseph Page to advance Lake Forest into the red zone.
The home team embarked on another 10-play scoring drive, this one covering 54 yards, in the third quarter. Vidas caught a 37-yard pass early in the drive and Peters made a highlight reel one-handed grab and gained six yards on 3rd-and-5 in the red zone. The drive stalled at the St. Norbert 14, setting up a 32-yard field goal by sophomore Jon Gurchak. It was Gurchak's sixth three-pointer of the season, matching the second-highest total in team history.
A deep pass from Lewis to sophomore wide receiver Willie McIntyre started the final scoring drive of the game and a 10-yard touchdown pass from Lewis to senior tight end Greg Alonso finished it. Gurchak split the uprights for the extra point, his 24th of the year without a miss.
After kicking a 23-yard field goal on their second possession of the contest, the Green Knights were kept off the scoreboard for the rest of the afternoon by the Forester defense. St. Norbert gained just 181 total yards in the game and the Foresters finished the season leading the MWC in total defense with just 282.4 yards allowed per contest.
Senior linebacker Jordan Cruz led the home team on Saturday with a dozen tackles and finished the year with a team-high 75 stops. His 274 career tackles rank him seventh in program history. Junior linebacker John Preston added 10 tackles in the game and was just three behind Cruz for the season. Senior cornerback Ed Dobernig made eight tackles, including three on kickoffs, and added a pair of pass breakups. Senior defensive linemen Taylor Holzmeyer, Jake Rotkvich, and Michael Garetto-Balmer and senior linebacker Bryce Jones combined for five sacks in the contest.
Vidas caught two more passes in the second half and finished the game with four reception for a career-high 158 yards. McIntyre hauled in a team-high five passes for 67 yards.
The Foresters finished the season 8-2 overall and 7-2 in MWC play. Thanks to a 22-20 Illinois College loss at Carroll University later in the afternoon, St. Norbert will advance to the NCAA Playoffs with an 8-2 mark overall and 8-1 record in the league.
Lake Forest won all of its home games for the second year in a row, matching the program record 10-game home winning streak set in 1910. The Foresters' 16 victories since the beginning of last season match the program's highest two-year total, set by the 2002 (9-1) and 2003 (7-3) squads.