The Maroons have preserved their Monsters of the Midway moniker by mashing their way to a 3–0 start. After narrowly edging out Case Western at home and squeaking by a week later at Millsaps, the team returned to the South Side with an upset over No. 20 Centre.
Three successful games into the season, it is easy to forget that the Maroons almost started the season in a hole, finding themselves down by 14 points in the fourth quarter of their season opener against Case. The Maroon offense then kicked it into high gear. Back to back 68-yard drives resulted in a pair of touchdown passes from third-year quarterback Burke Moser, evening up the game at 24–24. Case answered back on the next drive, as third-year receiver Bryan Erb stormed across the field en route to a 70-yard touchdown. But the Spartans failed to execute the extra point, opening the door for a Chicago victory. The Maroons capitalized, with Moser throwing his fourth touchdown pass of the day, on a dart to third-year receiver Syd Reynolds. Fourth-year Karol Kurzydlowski converted on the extra point opportunity to secure a victory for the squad as the defense managed to shut Case down for a final score of 31–30.
The South Siders followed the opening weekend nail-biter with another tight game against Millsaps out of Mississippi. After a 13-hour bus ride, it was Chicago who jumped ahead in the first half, staking out a 17–0 lead mid way through the second quarter. The teams then exchanged blows, heading into the half with the Maroons still leading by the score of 24–14. Millsaps made a push in the second half, coming within a touchdown of the lead, but couldn’t conquer the Chicago offense, which added another touchdown to nail down a 31–27 day.
Moser continued to produce, throwing for a career high 348 yards and three touchdowns. “Quite honestly we are just playing with a lot of confidence,” the third-year play-caller said. “Coming off of a strong season last year, we knew we still had a lot to prove, especially since we changed conferences this year. The offense is clicking, the defense is playing hard, we just feel pretty confident about our team as a whole.”
The team headed into its game last weekend brimming with confidence, but it faced a tall order in taking on the No. 20 ranked Centre. The Colonels, prior to running into the Maroons, boasted a 14-game-long regular season winning streak. Chicago knocked the conference powerhouse on its heels early, however, turning a fourth down deep in Colonels’ territory into a touchdown pass from Moser to fourth-year Cole Thoms. One possession later, the quarterback delivered again, connecting with Reynolds for a 23-yard pass that wound up in the end zone.
Centre came out with a touchdown to start the second, making the score 14–7. The home team was not deterred, as Moser delivered again with a 35-yard touchdown strike to fourth-year Nathan Massey. Centre scored a field goal with 90 seconds left, looking to go into the half with a score of 21–10. Heading into the half, momentum was in limbo. However, second-year running back Chandler Carroll had other ideas. He stormed down the field for a 48-yard gain, setting up a Moser-to-Thoms connection that secured the team a 28–10 lead with mere seconds left in the half.
Moser had a monster first half on his way to what would be a 212-yard day. However, when asked about the success that he and the rest of the offensive group experienced, the third-year thrower was quick to shift the responsibility of the success to his teammates. “So far I’ve just been getting the ball to the playmakers we have on offense. There are five or six guys that can make plays on every down and as long as I can get it in their hands, we are golden.”
However, when Chicago came out for the second half, the game quickly became second-year Chandler Carroll’s. Though Centre scored on its kickoff return, the running back scored from 39 yards out on the Maroon’s initial drive of the half. A couple minutes later, he rushed for 33 more yards into the red zone with a subsequent 5-yard dash into the end zone. Then, toward the end of the third quarter, Carroll smashed his way through the Colonels defensive line, galloping down the field to score a 72-yard touchdown. That gave him three touchdowns on the day, giving Chicago a 49–16 advantage.
Carroll finished with 311 rushing yards, a new school record, as the Maroons won by a final of 49–30. Bruce Montella had set the old record of 305 yards in 1985. “That kid brings it every day,” said Moser. “I just think there were a few more holes for him on Saturday. Any given Saturday he can set a record, he’s just one of those special players.”
The Maroons have started 3–0 for the third consecutive year, giving them sole possession of first place in the SAA conference. As they prepare for their next match at Birmingham next Saturday, Moser said that their confidence will continue to lead them toward success. “We never are overconfident and cocky, but there is definitely a swagger on game days that helps us play together and win.”
Birmingham will prove another tough match up, however, as it is 3–1 to start the season.
The Maroons are scheduled to play at Birmingham, AL at 1 p.m. on Saturday, October 3. The squad will look to improve on their record there and then continue their march to what could potentially be an undefeated season.