It was the first victory of Coach Jim Catanzaro's young head coaching career in the state of Wisconsin, but more importantly, it was the Foresters first MWC victory of the 2011 campaign.
The Foresters came out of the locker room performing at a very high level. The defense, which had gone through a rough couple of games pitched only its second shut out quarter of the '11 season in the first quarter. The Foresters gained some significant momentum in the first quarter as they forced a fumble on Beloit's second possession. The Forester offense turned that takeaway into seven points four plays later on a three yard pass from Pete Scaffidi to Kevin Davis. It was the fifth time that the two South Elgin High School alums have connected for a touchdown pass in give games.
Beloit would attempt to answer the Forester score, but a missed field goal would provide the Foresters a chance to extend their lead. On the fifth play of the drive, Scaffidi would again find Davis for a 61 yard touchdown. The touchdown gave the Foresters their first double digit lead of the season.
"It was awesome. We had talked about extending a lead the last two weeks, and to finally accomplish it, I think was a great feeling for everyone on the team. We had explained to the players the advantages and the two score lead, and what it would allow us to do as coaches. I know that they were really trying to make that happen. After we got that second touchdown, there was a portion of our playbook defensively that had been dormant for a while that we could now tap into. Our defensive guys were excited," said Coach Catanzaro.
The Bucs would take their next possession 49 yards, before a big third down stop by the Foresters. Beloit would convert the 26 yard field goal. The Foresters next drive would be their only 3 and out possession of the day. After a Tanner Daugherty punt that pinned Beloit inside their 20 yard line, junior safety Aidan Price, who was making his first scheduled start for the Foresters recorded his first career interception. Price would return it the interception to the 14 yard line. The first play from scrimmage was 14 yard touchdown pass to junior Austin Sobey to give the Foresters a 20-3 lead.
The Foresters went into halftime, with words of caution from their head coach. "No lead is safe, and we must FINISH the game," said Catanzaro. "I didn't want the players to think that a lead at halftime would equal a victory."
Beloit would score on their first possession of the second half a 9 play 58 yard drive the took almost 5 minutes off the clock.
"I was glad that our guys made Beloit work hard on that drive. I was disappointed in how they scored (31 yard touchdown pass) on 3rd and 12. We were in a pretty good coverage position, we just failed to make the play, and it allowed a very talented player (BC's Derek Carrier) to get into the end zone," commented Catanzaro.
The Forester offense took the field and responded. The Foresters marched 60 yards on 9 plays including a 4th and 1 conversion on their own five yard line, before junior Al Mitchell walked into the end zone on a 1 yard touchdown carry.
Beloit's next possession would last for 13 plays and 6 minutes and 40 seconds, but would only cover 41 yards. The Foresters would record a stop on 4th and goal from the 19 yard line, after a holding call had backed up the Buccaneers.
The Foresters lead 27-10 at this point, and were interested in clicking off as much time from the clock as possible. The first play of the drive ended the third quarter, and the Foresters started the fourth quarter with one goal in mind. "We wanted to run the ball, play after play, and keep the clock running. We had a conversation as coaches that we wanted to shorten the game. Since there had only been three total possessions in the third quarter, we wanted to replicate that in our favor during the fourth quarter," commented Catanzaro.
The players took the coaches "orders" and executed to perfection. Their possession resulted in a 13 play 51 yard drive that churned six minutes and thirty-six seconds off of the clock. The Foresters did not score any points, but they kept the football away from the Beloit offense. Unfortunately, during this time, the Buccaneers had come up with a "big-play" idea for the Forester defense and on the fifth play of the drive, the Bucs again found Carrier for a 57 yard touchdown that saw him split two defenders on his way to the end zone.
"Derek showed why he is an NFL prospect. There aren't a lot of guys that are his size with that type of speed. I was thoroughly impressed with the way that he played, and am glad that this is the last time that we have to see him on the opposing sideline," said Catanzaro.
The Forester offense took over the next possession still with a 10 point lead. The Foresters would put together a drive that was almost identical to their last drive. 13 plays, 51 yards and an incredible six minutes and forty-nine seconds burned off the clock. The drive included a "controversial" decision by Coach Catanzaro to "go for it" on 4th and 1 from their own 36 yard line.
"It was a really easy decision for me. I know that we could get one yard if we executed it properly. We have had good success in those situations, and I wanted to maintain possession of the football. Our offensive line had been doing a great job, so we called the time out after the play clock wound down, and we made sure that we were all on the same page. But you'd better believe, after the game, even my wife asked me what I was thinking. The privilege of being the head coach, is that no one knows my team better than I do. I'd go for it again even if we didn't convert it there. I had the confidence in our offense to get it, and in our defense to get a stop if we didn't," said an emphatic Catanzaro.
Despite moving the ball, the Foresters did not score as two attempts to the endzone on third and fourth down inside the 16 yard line fell incomplete.
Beloit would have its final drive of the day ended on an interception by senior captain Luke Butts. It was Butts' fourth interception in four games against the Buccaneers.
The Foresters were paced on offense by Davis who had 5 catches for 147 yards and two touchdowns, while junior running back Al Mitchell would top the 100 yard mark for the second time in three games at 107 yards on 24 carries. Defensively Butts added 10 tackles to his interception and Aidan Price added 7 to his interception. Senior defensive lineman Kenny Clady-Mason caused a fumble that was recovered by Sophomore LB Bryce Jones.
The Foresters return to action on Saturday, October 15th against Monmouth College.
Players of the Week:
Offensively: Kevin Davis
Defensively: Aidan Price
Special Teams: Donnie Caldwell averaged 55 ypk on kickoffs.
Special Teams: Donnie Caldwell averaged 55 ypk on kickoffs.
Scout Team: Mike Somma
Lineman of the Week: Will Savor- graded out at 82% and recorded 2 pancakes coming off the bench.