BY RICH PALZEWIC
DE PERE – The St. Norbert College football team will be hosting the Midwest Conference championship game after it defeated Macalester College 17-15 Oct. 27 at Schneider Stadium.
With the victory, the Green Knights (7-1 overall, 4-0 MWC) clinched the North Division title and will entertain Monmouth (7-1, 4-0) Nov. 10 to decide the MWC crown.
“The goal was always to get to the Midwest Conference championship game and to win the title,” said St. Norbert head coach Dan McCarty, whose team won its 20th consecutive Homecoming game. “We achieved that today, but hats off to Macalester – they played their tails off. I’m extremely disappointed in our execution, especially on offense. We had a lot of misreads and mental errors, which are things we haven’t been doing this season. We can’t keep our defense on the field for so long.”
The Scots held a 67-47 advantage in total plays and held the ball for 8 more minutes than St. Norbert.
The Green Knights’ offense gained just 229 yards and recorded 11 first downs.
After St. Norbert fumbled the opening kickoff of the game and both teams had a number of failed drives, the Green Knights scored with just seconds remaining in the opening quarter to take a 7-0 lead.
Receiver Matt Galanopoulos took a pitch from quarterback Drew Rhodes from the 12-yard line for the touchdown. The score was set up a few plays earlier when Rhodes hit Drew Chavarria on a 38-yard pass.
Macalester had a 15-play drive that spanned 9 minutes and 2 seconds to begin the second quarter, but the St. Norbert defense forced a punt after the Scots gained only 37 yards on the drive.
The Green Knights used a Hunter Prokash interception – his second of the day – early in the third quarter to score two plays later for a 14-0 lead. Galanopoulos one again took a pitch from Rhodes for the touchdown, this time from 15 yards out.
“I was just reading the quarterback and he was staring down his receiver both times,” said Prokash, who hails from Algoma. “I was a little tired out there, but we practice for that.”
The Scots used a fake punt to keep a third-quarter drive going, but they eventually stalled at the 1-yard line on fourth and goal when Matt Barrett stuffed quarterback Grady Munro on a busted play.
Macalester also had a touchdown called back in the series due to an illegal formation.
The Scots broke into the scoring column with a touchdown with 11:04 remaining in the game.
St. Norbert’s Spenser Thompson-Meyers booted a 29-yard field goal with 4:52 left to make it 17-7, but Macalester promptly marched down the field for a score and a successful 2-point conversion.
The Green Knights drained the clock with two first downs on the ensuing possession to end the game.
Green Bay Notre Dame alumnus Nate Ihlenfeldt led St. Norbert with 82 yards rushing on 17 carries, while Rhodes was 9-12 passing for 101 yards.
Defensively, Matt Gurgone also had an interception and nine tackles.
“Monmouth has a great football team like the last three years that we have faced them,” McCarty added. “I have a lot of respect for them and they play hard. It’s going to take a tremendous effort on our part to walk out of here with a victory.”
St. Norbert will travel to Beloit Nov. 3 for a 1:00 game.
Macalester: 0, 0, 0, 15 – 7
St. Norbert: 7, 0, 7, 0 – 14