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A beautiful deep ball, a receiver intent upon twisting through Case defenders and crisscrossing the field into the end zone, and a stunning victory against a team perceived as unbeatable: A week after perhaps the most magical comeback in Chicago’s D-III history, the Maroons travel to Pittsburgh to play Carnegie in their second conference game of the season.
The 4–4 Tartans, who have lost their past two games in overtime and dropped their conference opener to Wash U 20–13, will be no easy stepping-stone for the Maroons.
“I think everyone’s gotten over the win and realizes it takes three wins to win the UAA, not just one,” second-year wideout Dee Brizzolara said. “It was a great start for us, but the focus has definitely shifted to the upcoming game.”
Brizzolara garnered UAA offensive player of the week honors after his game-winning catch and run last weekend.
After their incredible victory against Case, snapping the team’s 38-game regular-season winning streak, the Maroons improved to 6–2 on the season. The team has won its past four games.
“It was a definite boost in the team’s morale. We needed that win and pulled out that extra something to come home with the victory,” said first-year wide receiver Ian Gaines, who rushed the ball twice and caught a pass on Saturday’s game against Case.
Last season, the Maroons entered their UAA game against Case under similar circumstances. The Maroons entered with a 4–2 record but dropped the game late. The loss marked the beginning of the end of what had been a promising season.
But having beaten the perennial UAA favorite, the Maroons can reasonably see a conference championship and entry into the D-III playoffs in their future.
“The win against Case was an amazing win for us as a team. It has refocused on us winning the UAA,” said fourth-year quarterback Marshall Oium. “No one on this team has ever won the UAA, and we have a great shot at doing it this year, so everyone seems to be elevating their play at practice to assure that there are no let downs this week against Carnegie.”
Of course, games are played, not prognosticated, and while the Maroons undoubtedly enter as favorites, Carnegie has won two of their past three home games.
“They are an old-school team, with a hard-nose offense that will run the ball a lot,” said Gaines. “Concerning their record, we pay little attention to it. We treat every game like the team is undefeated—it’s the only mindset to have when facing your opponent.”
The Maroons now control their own destiny in terms of the UAA championship, an honor they have not won since 2005. In a meeting that has all the makings of a trap game, the Maroons have prepared diligently during the week to ensure a strong showing.
“They are going to be a very tough opponent: They always play tough defense, their offense is difficult to stop and they don’t allow the opposing offense’s many opportunities to score throughout the game,” said Oium. “We will need to take advantage of our possessions in the first quarter and put some points up on the board. We will need some help from our defense and special teams, as always, to win this game.”
“They are a better football team than their record shows,” Brizzolara added. “We’ve put in some new plays on offense, and our defense is preparing exactly the same way we did for them last year, which should be great considering how well they played. They’re a good team, and I expect them to come after us and give us a great game.”
The Maroons will travel to Gesling Stadium to face the Tartans this Saturday at 1 p.m.