The McKendree University football team saw its four-game win streak come to an end Saturday with a 28-10 loss Saturday at Leemon Field against the University of Indianapolis, which is ranked No. 7 in the latest American Football Coaches Association poll.
The Bearcats took a 3-0 lead late in the first quarter on a 23-yard field goal by freshman kicker Josh Lazaro (Bradley, Ill./Bradley-Bourbonnais), but the visiting Greyhounds reeled off 21 unanswered points to seize control and hold on for the win. McKendree moves to 4-2 on the year and 2-1 in GLVC play, and will step out of conference for the final time next Saturday to visit Davenport University in Michigan. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. ET in Grand Rapids, Mich.
“We played a very good team today,” said McKendree head football coach Mike Babcock. “I felt like we were able to execute well in most areas of the game, and some things didn’t go as well in other phases. But we played hard and gave everything we had out there today. Unfortunately we came up short. You have to give a lot of credit to UIndy because they showed why they are a top-10 team in (NCAA) Division II.”
Junior quarterback Reece Metcalf (Mount Carmel, Ill./Mount Carmel) completed better than 83 percent of his pass attempts against Indianapolis, going 25-of-30 for 221 yards in Saturday’s contest. He connected with junior wide receiver Josh Revay (Livermore, Calif.) seven times for 70 yards.
For the second straight week – and the fourth time in the last five outings – senior running back Shayeen Edwards (East St. Louis, Ill./Cahokia) topped the century mark in the rushing department. Edwards gained a team-leading 104 yards on 24 carries and jumped into the top five on the Bearcats’ career rushing list. Edwards now has 1,953 yards and moved past Louis Harden (1,874 yards) into fifth on the team’s all-time rushing list.
Saturday’s game was scoreless until the later stages of the first quarter, when McKendree was able to drive down to the Indianapolis one-yard line. Following an illegal procedure penalty and a pair of incompletion, McKendree was able to grab a 3-0 lead thanks to Lazaro’s 23-yard boot with 1:56 left in the opening period.
UIndy (6-0, 3-0 GLVC) countered by scoring on consecutive possessions in the middle stages through the second quarter to take the lead for good at 14-3. A four-yard touchdown run by Tuwan Payton followed by a 44-yard touchdown pass from Jake Purichia to Aaron Matio helped give the Greyhounds an 11-point advantage they would take into the intermission. Indianapolis then added a nine-yard TD run from Payton on the opening drive in the second half to extend the margin to 21-3.
After a turnover on the ensuing kickoff gave the ball back to the Greyhounds deep in McKendree territory, sophomore defensive back Blake Benoist (O’Fallon, Mo./Fort Zumwalt West) provided perhaps the biggest defensive play of the contest for the Bearcats. Benoist stepped in front of a Purichia pass in the end zone to thwart a UIndy scoring chance. Following the touchback, McKendree marched 80 yards in 11 plays to register its lone touchdown of the afternoon. Junior running back Preston Thompson Hazel Crest, Ill./Tinley Park) capped the drive when he outraced a Greyhounds’ defender to the pylon for a 10-yard touchdown run. Lazaro’s extra point brought the Bearcats within 21-10 with 5:28 remaining in the third quarter.
The Greyhounds answered with a scoring drive of its own, which ended on a one-yard quarterback keeper from Purichia to help the visitors regain an 18-point lead.
Sophomore linebacker Ricco Gipson (Godfrey, Ill./Alton), the reigning GLVC Defensive Player of the Week, posted a team-high 12 tackles for McKendree, including nine solos. Senior defensive end Tobias Cook (Chicago, Ill./Westinghouse College Prep) chipped in with 12 tackles, while senior linebacker Austin Weltha Bloomington, Ill./Bloomington) added nine stops for the Bearcats.