The McKendree University football team was defeated in a Great Lakes Valley Conference contest Saturday night at the University of Indianapolis, 48-10.
The host Greyhounds, ranked No. 16 in the latest American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division II poll, scored on five of its first six possessions en route to their sixth straight victory. With the loss, McKendree slips to 4-4 overall and 2-2 in GLVC play. The Bearcats will begin a two-game home stand next Saturday when William Jewell visits Leemon Field for Homecoming. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
“Indianapolis showed why they are a top 25 team,” said McKendree head football coach Mike Babcock. “They played well on both sides of the ball and excelled on special teams. On top of that, they are very well-coached and fundamentally sound. They executed well and took advantage of opportunities.”
Senior running back Preston Thompson (Hazel Crest, Ill./Tinley Park) rushed for a team-high 90 yards on 25 carries to lead McKendree. Sophomore running back Jerrico Johnson (Matteson, Ill./Bishop McNamara) added 42 yards on eight attempts, while sophomore running back Jace Franklin (Sherman, Ill./Williamsville) contributed 32 yards on 12 attempts.
Indianapolis (6-1, 5-0 GLVC) raced to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter when McKendree found the scoreboard in the first minute of the second period. Sophomore kicker Josh Lazaro (Bradley, Ill./Bradley-Bourbonnais) booted a career-long 47-yard field goal following a Greyhound turnover to help the Bearcats pull within 14-3. A muffed punt by UIndy was recovered by McKendree sophomore long snapper Caleb Shipley (Centralia, Ill./Centralia) at the Greyhounds’ 38-yard line to help set up Lazaro’s field goal.
UIndy’s Toriano Clinton then returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a score to push the hosts lead to 20-3 as Indianapolis scored twice more before the intermission to take a 34-3 lead at the half.
Clinton then returned the second-half kickoff 83 yards to the end zone for his second special teams touchdown of the evening before adding a 71-yard scoring run later in the third period. In addition to his two kick returns for scores, Clinton rushed for a game-high 182 yards on 11 carries and added three touchdowns on the ground.
Johnson collected his first rushing touchdown of the year for McKendree midway through the fourth quarter when he scampered in from a yard out, and Lazaro’s extra point accounted for the final points of the evening.
Sophomore defensive lineman Brandon Purnell (Dolton, Ill./Simeon) registered a team-leading six tackles on defense for McKendree. Junior linebackers Kennith Wilson (Chicago, Ill./Simeon) and Darnell Harris, Jr., (San Diego, Calif./Kearney) as well as junior defensive back Blake Benoist (O’Fallon, Mo./Fort Zumwalt West), chipped in with five tackles apiece for the Bearcats.