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November 14, 2011

Brizzolara sets another record in loss to Bears

The Maroons ended their season with a 38–20 loss at Wash U on Saturday, their 18th loss in the 25-year history of the annual Founder’s Cup game. The Maroons lost their final three games of the season and finished the year at 5–5 after a promising 5–2 start.

The Maroons started slow on offense, allowing Wash U to take the lead in the first quarter on a 20-yard strike from Bears quarterback Dan Burkett to wide receiver Easton Knott. Each of Chicago’s ensuing drives in the quarter resulted in a punt.

Chicago fell behind 10–0 in the second quarter on a field goal by Wash U’s Eric Chalifour, but then the Chicago offense picked up, with second-year quarterback Vincent Cortina connecting with third-year tight end Brandon Meckelberg for a 29-yard touchdown. A missed two-point conversion left the score at 10–6.

Wash U struck back towards the end of the half on a second 20-yard touchdown pass from Burkett to Knott. The Maroons rallied to score in a last-minute drive at the end of the half. First-year running back Zak Ross-Nash’s two-yard touchdown run sent Chicago into halftime down by only four.

“I felt like we came into the game with the right attitude and intensity, but big plays were the difference,” said Meckelberg, who also caught a 36-yard pass from Cortina during the last drive of the half. “We simply made fewer big plays than the Bears did.”

Chicago came out of the break sluggish again, not scoring at all in the third quarter. Meanwhile, Wash U added two more touchdowns through the air to push their lead to 31–13.

“Much like the Carnegie Mellon game, we struggled in the third quarter and put ourselves in too big of a hole,” second-year tight end Tom Bemenderfer said.

The Maroons caught a glimpse of things to come when first-year quarterback Patrick Ryan found third-year receiver Dee Brizzolara for a 34-yard score late in the fourth quarter, the first and only points they would score in the second half.

“The older guys out there were helping me out and keeping me calm out there,” Ryan said. “The line was doing a great job of protecting me, which was a huge confidence booster, knowing I’d be able to make my throws without having guys in my face. Having such a great group of receivers really helps too. We know as long as we can get [Brizzolara] the ball, great things will happen.”

Brizzolara’s touchdown gave him possession of Chicago’s modern-era record for career receiving yards, putting an exclamation point on a standout season for the third-year from Aurora, OH.

But outside of Brizzolara’s individual success, it has been a disappointing season for the Maroons.

“I felt like we were capable of beating every team on our schedule, but we didn’t play up to our potential,” Meckelberg said. “My hope is that we can use this loss as motivation for next year.”

Fourteen fourth-years will graduate after the season, including defensive standouts like linebacker Danny Polanezcky and lineman Matt Sargent. As for the offense, Chicago will maintain stability, keeping all three quarterbacks as well as key playmakers like Brizzolara and Ross-Nash.

“My heart goes out to this year’s seniors,” Bemenderfer said. “But the way this season ended will serve as motivation for all of us returning next year.”

“We need to work hard this off-season to get bigger, faster, and stronger,” Meckelberg said.

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