Football pummels Elmhurst 66-0 for largest victory in 85 years

| Staff Writer

Senior Collin Hoyhtya and Junior Kenneth Hamilton celebrate after scoring a touchdown against Elmhurst on Oct. 28 (Lydia Nicholson|Student Life)

It’s a law of nature: if a bear and a blue jay got into a fight, the bear would make quick work of the bird. The blue jay has no chance. It would be an almost instantaneous victory for the bear. 

Fine — I admit that I have never watched a bear and a blue jay fight. If I had to give my best guess as to what that fight would look like, though, I would presume it looks similar to what happened on Saturday afternoon, when the WashU Bears thrashed the Elmhurst Blue Jays 66-0. The win was WashU’s first shutout victory since 2019. Per the Athletic Department, this was football’s second-largest margin of victory in program history, second only to an 88-0 thumping of McKendree College in 1938. 

The Bears’ offense completely dominated Elmhurst in the first half. Elmhurst fumbled the opening kickoff, and while it was able to recover the ball, a three-and-out and a 17-yard punt return put WashU in excellent field position for the opening drive. It took just one play — a 27-yard run from junior running back Kenneth Hamilton — for WashU to find the end zone. Minutes later, another three-and-out from the Blue Jays put WashU in favorable field position. Three plays later, sophomore tailback Fred Ware ran for a 15-yard score, bringing the score to 14-0 before WashU even ran a play outside of Elmhurst territory. 

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Elmhurst finally broke into WashU territory later in the first quarter, but a key sack from graduate linebacker Matthew Schmal set up a crucial interception by sophomore cornerback Joseph Norris. While the Bears could not convert on the drive, Norris’ interception took away any momentum that Elmhurst may have been brewing. At the beginning of the second quarter, the Bears deployed freshman backup quarterback Levi Moore for a QB sneak into the end zone, expanding the WashU lead to 20. Throughout the quarter, Hamilton and Ware again traded touchdowns, and junior Kenvorris Campbell added a running score of his own to bring the Bears’ advantage to 42. The hypothetical betting line for the game, courtesy of the Massey Ratings sports analytics website, favored the Bears to win by 40 points — they covered the spread at the end of the first half. 

“The dynamic [between the running backs] is amazing,” said Ware, one of four WashU running backs to find the end zone this weekend. “We’re always the first ones that cheer on each other, both after big plays and after mistakes, so we can come out on top and do our job.” 

The second half was less action-packed than the first, but featured a brilliant shutdown performance from the WashU defense. With 10 minutes left in the third quarter, sophomore defensive back Ryan Schmadtke picked off the Elmhurst quarterback and returned the errant pass for a WashU touchdown. On the ensuing Elmhurst drive and not even two minutes after the touchdown, Schmadtke returned another Elmhurst misfire for a pick-six. Schmadtke’s dominant two minutes, paired with stellar play from the entire defense and two field goals from graduate kicker Chris Vartanian, helped WashU cruise to an easy win. Nearly every healthy player on the roster found time on the field this Saturday — which, according to Ware, is critical to team chemistry. 

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“We really push for having games where everyone gets to contribute,” said Ware. “The family atmosphere of the team gets us back to having fun. We play here because we really do love the game.” 

With its victory, WashU has clinched a winning record in conference play this season; football has not posted a losing record in conference play since they joined the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin in 2018. Despite an up-and-down season featuring an upset loss to Augustana and a dominating defeat against perennial #1 North Central, WashU has kept its streak for another year. The Bears’ two losses on the season have likely eliminated them from the NCAA tournament, so this week’s win is unlikely to change the season’s outcome. Still, a victory of this magnitude is no small feat for a WashU team that has faced so much adversity this season. 

“Our coaches called this week our ‘Get Right’ week,” Ware said. “We had two weeks that weren’t a good reflection of our team as a whole. We wanted to ‘get right,’ we did, and both us and our coaches were happy.”

Sophomore Artrell Miller ran for 91 yards against Elmhurst on Oct. 28. (Clara Richards | Student Life)

Football faces a big conference challenge next weekend, as the Bears will travel to Wheaton College to take on the #12 Thunder. It will not be an easy game for WashU — Bears football has not defeated Wheaton since the 2018 season. The Bears hope for another all-around solid team performance to break the trend on Saturday. 

Catch up on the Bears’ season: 

Football overpowered by defending national champion #1 North Central in 49-3 defeat


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