Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Foresters Extinguish Prairie Fire

In a highly anticipated game, the Foresters did something on Saturday that they hadn't done since 2006, and that was win a game on the road vs. Knox College 31-27.

In addition to winning the game, the Foresters continued their assault on the teams offensive record books, as several records were either tied, or fell at Saturday's game. For a complete summary of records that were broken or tied, please see this article.

The Foresters had two unlikely heroes on the day, in addition to their offensive superstars. Freshman Kicker Donnie Caldwell, made a huge play in the third quarter as he connected on his first field goal of his career to extend the Forester lead to 24-7. This would be the Foresters only points in one of their longest touchdown droughts, going 32 minutes between their last two touchdowns in the game.

Junior Aidan Price's block and recovery of Knox's extra point attempt after their final touchdown kept the Prairie Fire lead at 3points.

"Aidan's block was a huge play. This allowed us to have options. If we needed to, we felt that we could line up for a field goal and tie the game and go to overtime if we needed to. I am glad that we didn't need to. With Donnie making his first field goal attempt, we knew he be confident, and we knew where we would need to be on the field in order for him to make the field goal," said Coach Catanzaro.

The Foresters had one of their best defensive "halves" on the season in the first half against Knox. Allowing just 118 yards, of which 71 came on Knox's lone scoring drive. The Foresters also limited the Prairie Fire to 6 total first downs, four of which came on the lone Knox scoring drive. The Forester defense received a big boost from Freshman John Preston. Preston, who had spent much of the season at Fullback, made his first start at linebacker versus Knox.

"John Preston's performance on Saturday, sealed his move to the defensive side of the ball. He had one of the most productive games of any defensive player in my time at Lake Forest. One of the things that won't show up in the box score is how impactful his two sacks were on the course of the game. His ability to get pressure, without us having to zone blitz really gave us a strong advantage. He was as focused as any player on his task, and executed with outstanding skill. He set the tone for our whole team on our first kick off when he ran down the field, and made a big hit on the Knox returner. From that point on, he just had a game to remember. I hope he can duplicate that next week."

For his efforts, Preston was named the MWC Defensive Player of the week, the first since Ed Dobernig in week 8 of the 2010 season. Preston finished the day with 18 tackles, 2 sacks, and 1.5 tackles fora loss. For more information on the MWC Player of the Week award, please click here.

The offensive attack was balanced throughout the team as two receivers, Kevin Davis and Austin Sobey would have over 100 yards receiving, and junior running back Al Mitchell would have his biggest rushing total of his career with 171 yards on 24 carries. His 171 yards were the 8th highest single game total by a Forester running back. Sobey would tie a school record that he shares with Davis among others with three touchdown receptions. Sobey is the first player in school history to have multiple three TD games in the same season, after securing three TD's versus Illinois College earlier in the season.

Davis would add to his single season records for yards with another 148 yards receiving. Among his yardage was a critical fourth down reception on the game winning drive. On fourth and five with under three minutes to go in the game, Scaffidi found Davis in the right flat. At the point of reception, Davis would not have had the first down, but with a burst of speed towards the sideline, he was able to pick up the necessary yardage and get out of bounds.

"Our final drive of the game was text book. We knew that our play makers on offense would find a way to do get us the score. The first play of the drive really set the tone, rather than go to the air immediately, we ran a run play with Pete. This is a play that we hadn't run all game, and it collected 18 yards of breathing room for us. I have to admit, I was a little nervous when we got to 3rd and 4th down, but if there is one thing that I have learned this season is that we have guys who will find a way to make the necessary play on offense. When Pete found Kevin for the first down, it calmed me down quite a bit. Pete's pass to Austin for the game winning touchdown was a perfectly executed play against the coverage that we saw. On the previous play, all of the coaches saw an opening for a touchdown. I give a lot of credit to Coach Kerr for coming back with that play-call to get the game winner," said Catanzaro. "One thing that goes unnoticed and I have to mention is that as we went into the kickoff team huddle after the touchdown, we were short a few players due to injuries that were suffered during the game. I called out to KD and said, 'Hey man, I need you for one more play. Can you give it?'-- He didn't even hesitate, 'Coach, I got you.' Mind you, Kevin had come off the field with a minor injury in the third quarter. This is not a surprise by any means, but how many record setting wide receivers are running down on their teams kickoff team. Not only did he run down, he went out there and made the tackle. After giving up a big return in the third quarter, we really needed to get them pinned on their side of the 50, and Kevin did that. He is one of the most humble, and hand-working players on our team. The maturation that he has gone through from his freshman year to now, is something that is truly special, and he is a player that I couldn't be more proud of."

"Austin had a great game. In addition to the three touchdown passes that he caught, there were numerous drive extending catches as well. He did a great job of getting open and making catches. Knox was trying to double team Kevin early in the game, and Austin and Pete did a tremendous job of making them pay against single coverage. Austin has had a breakout junior season. I know how hard he worked in the weight room this past spring and he is really seeing some rewards from that."

Scaffidi recorded his third straight game of 300+ yards passing, and his sixth on the season. On the season Scaffidi has an astounding TD to interception ration at 28-5. Scaffidi is current ranked 2nd in NCAA Division III in Points responsible for, 3rd in total offense, 7th in Passing yards per game. Senior Kevin Davis is ranked 3rd in receiving yards per game, Davis is also 4th in receiving yards (total).

"It was a great win. It made for an enjoyable bus ride home, and now our guys are focused on closing out the conference slate next Friday," said Catanzaro.