In a somewhat backward fashion, Chicago (5–3, 0–1 UAA) lost to Case Western (4–3, 1–0) on Saturday in a defensive battle in which the Maroons only put up a field goal in a 16–3 loss.
On paper, the South Siders, who offensively averaged 21 points per game prior to the matchup, should have been able to run up the score against the mediocre-seeming Case, which was allowing over 27 points per game entering Saturday, but the Maroons could not rise to the challenge.
“Overall, we played decent, but we didn’t finish,” said third-year linebacker Schuyler Montefalco. “We were great at creating turnovers, but we were just unable to capitalize on our opportunities.”
“Decent” refers to the defense, which only allowed 209 yards of total offense and forced two turnovers.
However, the five turnovers (two fumbles and three interceptions) set a season high for Chicago.
“Their defense did a good job of staying tough and forcing us to try and make plays,” said fourth-year quarterback Vincent Cortina.
Moreover, going two out of 14 (14 percent) on third downs and only gaining 131 passing yards and a dismal 10 rushing yards don’t exactly make a recipe for success.
The offense has seemed like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of Hyde Park this season: it averaged over 30 points per contest from September 28 to October 19, but has not put up more than six in the last two weeks.
On the other hand, Chicago’s defense played with fire—even the offense thought so.
“Our defense was terrific all game,” Cortina said.
Case only gained 109 passing yards and 100 rushing yards while converting just six out of 17 (35 percent) third down opportunities.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the defense,” Montefalco said. “We worked so hard, and we never gave up. We were put in some tough situations on our own goal line, and we came together and stopped them. The momentum wasn’t going our way, and we just went out there and did our job—very proud, but still a lot of room to grow.”
Second-year defensive backs Vincent Beltrano and Greg Thome wrangled in the two picks for Chicago’s defense, which was led by fourth-year linebacker and captain Brian Duffy (10 tackles), third-year defensive lineman Brandon Bolock (nine tackles), and Montefalco (eight tackles).
Chicago had trouble converting drives into touchdowns last weekend, too. Montefalco knows that the Maroons will have to work hard to come out of their current rough patch.
“The main issue was, again, finishing. We had some good chances, and we just didn’t get it done. Also, our special teams play needs to be picked up immensely. It should be an easy fix, but it’s all attention to detail, and we will have to focus up and come back mentally prepared for next week,” he said.
The Maroons will have a chance to improve their record when Carnegie Mellon comes to town next Saturday. The Tartans are 3–5 this season and lost a close game to Wash U in their UAA opener, falling 9–7. If Chicago is to challenge for a conference title this year, a win over Carnegie is a must.