Despite even start, North Central proves to be too much for WU to handle

Miguel Campos and Dorian DeBose | Staff Reporters

The Washington University football team hosted its first game of the 2019 campaign at the newly renamed Francis Olympic Field this past weekend against No. 5 North Central College. After the dust settled on some early excitement, the Bears were unable to keep up with the Cardinals, losing 46-13.

Wash. U. struggled to decipher the potent North Central offense right from the get-go. North Central quarterback senior Broc Rutter wasted no time in getting his team on the board. Taking up less than two minutes of game clock, Rutter’s swift ten-yard pass to sophomore running back Terrence Hill put the Cardinals up by six with a missed extra point attempt.

Curran Neenan | Student Life

Running back John Fisher is tackled by several North Central University defenders on an outside run. Washington University dropped their home opener to #5 North Central (Ill.), 46-13.

After the Bears went three and out, Rutter drove his team down the field once again. He methodically picked apart the Bears’ defense before tossing a three-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver senior DeAngelo Hardy, making the score 13-0 in favor of the visiting team after the extra kick went through the uprights. Hardy would end up with 31 yards receiving and two touchdowns to top it off.

The Bears’ second drive looked like it would be another dud, but a horse collar penalty on the third down extended their drive and injected new life into the Bears’ offense. A series of good rushing plays—most by senior quarterback Johnny Davidson—mixed with the occasional passing play, brought the team all the way from the Wash. U. 35-yard line to the North Central one, where a rushing fake on third and goal fooled the North Central defense just enough to let Davidson sneak his way onto the scoreboard, cutting the lead in half, 13-7.

North Central moved the ball down the field with ease for most of their third drive, but the Wash. U. defense solidified as the Cardinals approached the red zone, forcing a field goal. Upon the snap, Wash. U.’s defensive back junior Andrew Whitaker leapt forward and managed to block field goal attempt. Sophomore linebacker Anthony Brown caught the ball at the Wash. U. 29-yard line and proceeded to run it back a total of 71 yards to pick up Wash U.’s second touchdown of the game, tying the score at 13 after North Central blocked the extra point attempt. The play was the last of the first quarter. Unknown to the Bears, it would also conclude their scoring on Saturday evening.

“We were right there, right at that time,” head coach Larry Kindbom said. “We just didn’t play the way we needed to play to win a game like this.”

Starting in the second quarter, North Central scored 33 unanswered points. On their opening drive of the second quarter, Hill bullied his way past the struggling Wash. U. defense to set up Rutter for his second touchdown pass to Hardy to put the score at 20-13.

Rutter and his offense drove down the field once again with less than 90 seconds remaining in the half. The quarterback pushed it all the way from the North Central 31 to to the end zone, finding junior wide receiver Andrew Kamienski open for a 10-yarder to make the score 27-13.

While both teams recalibrated for the start of the second half, a ceremony took place on the field to recognize the changing of the field name from Francis Field to Francis Olympic Field. It was originally named after Wash. U. alumnus David R. Francis, a former Missouri governor who was a major contributor in bringing the Olympic Games to the now-famous site. A number of Olympic athletes, as well as the St. Louis Sports Commission president, the chair of the commission’s Olympic’s Legacy Committee, and Wash. U. Chancellor Andrew. D. Martin, were part of the special guest list. The naming celebrates the lasting legacy of the 1904 Olympics. As it currently stands, Francis Olympic Field is the oldest modern Olympic stadium still in use.

Curran Neenan | Student Life

Defensive back Andrew Whitaker blocks a North Central University field goal attempt. Linebacker Anthony Brown pounced on the blocked kick and ran it back for a score in the first quarter.

Coming out of the halftime break, North Central continued adding to its lead, adding a safety, a nine-yard rushing touchdown, and a 27-yard field goal to make the score 39-13 by the end of three quarters of play.

What followed was a relatively uneventful fourth quarter, which only amounted to a six-yard passing touchdown from Rutter to Kamienski with just under nine minutes to spare. The touchdown, which was the final, unnecessary nail in the coffin of an already-decided game, brought the score to 46-13.

“We gotta get it figured out,” Kindbom said. “It’s not a strategy thing. It’s more along the lines of being able to play full speed all the time. Against a good football team, every little mistake becomes a big one. We’ll have to figure that out.”

Although it was not the best night for Davidson and company, it was quite a good night for North Central, as they piled on 640 yards of total offense with six touchdowns. Rutter threw for 398 yards and both Hill and sophomore running back Ethan Greenfield ran over 100 yards to finish off their nights (118 and 116 yards, respectively). This all speaks to the outstanding performance of the North Central offensive line.

“I think our offensive line did a really great job. There was not much pressure back there the whole day,” Rutter said. “You have an offensive line playing like that; it’s hard to stop you.”

During the game, Rutter broke the North Central school record for career completions and yards. “Its a credit to all our teammates and our coaches. They do a great job of putting me in situations to do those things that I’ve been doing.” Rutter said. “I’ve been blessed with everyone around me.”

Kamienski set the North Central record for catches with 15 catches for 181 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver junior Blake Willams tallied up 138 yards in his effort.

On the Wash. U. end, Davidson ended his night with 226 yards and senior wide receiver Tim Matthiessen brought in a career-high seven catches for a total of 52 yards. Fellow wide receiver senior Mitchel Groen put up 51 yards. On the defensive side, defensive back senior Matt Bernstein recorded his first career interception and had a career-high 11 tackles.

Wash. U. will attempt to shake off the loss next week when they face off against Carthage College in Wisconsin on Saturday, Sept. 28 at noon.

Sign up for the email edition

Stay up to date with everything happening as Washington University returns to campus.