St. Norbert wins home opener
By Greg Bates
After a season-opening loss, St. Norbert football coach Dan McCarty wanted to make sure his guys cleaned up their mistakes heading into Week 2.
The Green Knights did that, playing more sound football as it dictated the tempo of the game against the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
St. Norbert led by two touchdowns and ate up nearly 11 minutes on the clock in the final quarter to pull off a 21-14 victory at Donald J. Schneider Stadium in De Pere on Saturday, Sept. 10.
“We made too many mistakes in Week 1 for things we’ve been repping and doing,” McCarty said. “Our guys really locked in (Week 2) and executed our game plan. Our coaches did a great job building a good game plan and getting guys ready to compete. Just proud of how the entire team responded after last
The Green Knights opened the season on the road on Sept. 3 and lost a hard-fought battle to Ripon, 13-10.
McCarty really likes how his defense has showed up the first two weeks of the season. It allowed just 224 total yards to UW-Stevens Point, 79 yards on the ground.
“We’ve been playing lights out here,” McCarty said. “Obviously, we don’t want to give up one of the scores (against Stevens Point). That will be one of the key messages to the team is, ‘Hey, we go up 14-0, we’ve got to make it hard for them to punch one in.’ So there will need to be some growth there, but our guys are playing with a lot of confidence with what we’re doing and really playing fast and physical
out there. It’s great to see.”
St. Norbert (1-1) had its most successful drive of the first half late in the second quarter.
Quarterback Richie Gilles hit Tommy Hoeft for a 37-yard catch down to UW-Stevens Point’s 14. On the next play, that combo struck again to put the home team up, 7-0.
“We started well,” McCarty said. “We really clicked in all three phases of the game.”
At the start of the third, the Green Knights got into the red zone before feeding running back John Trinh.
He had runs of four, five and six yards — the final rush for a touchdown to cap a 10-play, 63-yard drive put his team up 14-0.
UW-Stevens Point got on the board on its next drive as Trey Schroeder hit Devin Baldridge for a 28-yard touchdown to pull within one score.
But again, St. Norbert had an answer with a nine-play, 65-yard possession. Mixing the pass and the run effectively, Gilles had a 1-yard keeper for a touchdown with 44 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
McCarty was impressed by his team’s drive to go back up by two touchdowns.
“It put pressure on them to have to do something and to respond really took them out of their game plan of what they want to do,” McCarty said. “Looking at the game, they wanted to run the ball and throw some play-action off of it, but when you’re behind it kind of takes you out of what you had planned. Really offensively, I thought the key was for us to burn nine minutes off the clock in the fourth quarter with a drive. We didn’t finish on that drive, but that was huge.”
Yes, that drive was critical. The St. Norbert offense took over at its own 16-yard line after the defense stopped UW-Stevens Point.
The Green Knights had a 14-drive that stretched 63 yards and chewed up 8 minutes, 51 seconds off the clock. The Pointers didn’t get the ball back until there was just 2:41 remaining in the game.
A quick touchdown strike from Schroeder to Baldridge for 19 yards made it a 21-14 contest.
St. Norbert recovered an onside kick attempt and it ran out the clock for the victory.
“I think it really sets the tone for the conference run here,” McCarty said. “We’re on a bye week, so we’re not really banged up. We do have some guys injured, so we’ll get those guys back, but it gives us a chance to kind of catch our breath and really evaluate everything and take a look at what we’re doing schematically and make sure we’re locked in with that. Really, it just sets the tone for conference play and for us to achieve our goal of a conference championship. I think this was a huge win and it shows the potential of this team.”
Gilles finished 18-for-28 passing for 191 yards and one touchdown. His top receiver was Hoeft with three catches for 67 yards and a score. Delton Zuleger, 88 yards, and Trinh, 79 yards, led the Green Knights in rushing.
St. Norbert now heads into its Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference schedule. The Green Knights will host Lakeland on Sept. 24 at 1 p.m.
The Muskies handed St. Norbert its ugliest loss a season ago, a 40-8 defeat.
“We just need to continue to offensively be a physical team and protect the football,” McCarty said. “To me, that’s the key that I’m really stressing with our offense is let’s make sure we’re not giving it back and protecting that thing.
“It’s a game we’re looking forward to. We didn’t have a good game against them last year, so it will be exciting to put two weeks of preparation in and get some rest and recovery and see what we can do when they come to town.”