Thirty-two carries, a career-high 140 rushing yards and three touchdowns made last weekend’s season opener memorable for Knox College running back Derek Mortensen.
An NCAA single-game passing record, a combined 117 points, 1,290 yards and 16 touchdowns earned the inaugural Lincoln Bowl between NCAA Division III Knox and Eureka College national attention.
“It was hectic, to say the least,” said Mortensen, a Crystal Lake South graduate and a junior at Knox, located in Galesburg. “I was happy to be part of a game that you saw on ‘SportsCenter’ the next day.”
Eureka’s 62-55 win in the football series that dates to 1893 came after Knox held leads of at least seven points on seven occasions. Eureka quarterback Sam Durley capped his record-setting 736-yard passing game with two TD passes in the final 1:44.
“It was disappointing to let it get away,” Mortensen said. “But it gives us a lot of hope. There were a lot of positives to take from it.”
Knox, which went winless last season and has not had a winning record since 2002, welcomed back 16 starters this season, including nine on offense.
“This is one of our biggest senior classes in a long time,” Mortensen said. “I’ve played with these guys a long time. Our whole offensive line is back, which is good for me.”
Along Mortensen’s veteran line is junior offensive tackle Jeremy Ransom, a fellow South grad.
Defensively, Knox’s starters include senior safety Jonas Mack (Cary-Grove) and junior linebacker Tom Discher (Woodstock). Against Eureka, Mack collected 10 tackles and Discher contributed eight.
Mortensen said scoring 55 points bodes well for a Knox offense that has gone from 10.2 points a game in 2010 to 21.5 last season.
A powerful 220-pound back who considers himself “a downhill runner,” Mortensen has embraced his role the past two years in the team’s pistol offense.
“When I came here, I was going to play fullback in a triple-option offense,” Mortensen said. “I’ve watched a lot of film and worked with my coaches to make a cut and get downhill.”
Tackling an upset: D-II University of Sioux Falls senior safety Michael Frericks had a team-high nine tackles for the Cougars’ football team Aug. 31 in a season-opening 32-19 upset victory against No. 16 St. Cloud (Minn.) State.
A Crystal Lake South grad, Frericks led the Cougars with seven solo tackles and added a tackle for loss in USF’s first game as a member of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. The Cougars formerly played at the NAIA level.
Igniting the Badgers: Cary-Grove grad Drew Conner, a freshman midfielder, scored a goal in his first career men’s soccer game for Wisconsin.
Conner scored in the 76th minute Aug. 24 in the Badgers’ 4-3 win at Memphis. Conner’s goal was one of four that Wisconsin scored in the second half.
Conner has started every match this season for Wisconsin (1-1-1).
Best Bobcat: Ohio sophomore women’s volleyball outside hitter Kelly Lamberti was named Mid-American Conference East Division Offensive Player of the Week on Tuesday.
Lamberti, a Cary-Grove grad, led the Bobcats with 18 kills and 11 digs against No. 19 Kentucky and 19 kills with a .341 hitting percentage against No. 13 Oregon in matches at last weekend’s Baymont Invitational in Athens, Ohio. Lamberti leads the Bobcats (1-5) in kills and points this season.
All five of Ohio’s losses this season have come to ranked teams.
Marian Central’s Abby Gilleland, a freshman setter for Ohio, leads the team with 8.3 assists per set.
Winona kicks off with rout: Prairie Ridge grads Bryan Bradshaw and Collin Corcoran helped D-II Winona (Minn.) State open its football season with a 58-6 rout of Minnesota, Crookston last weekend.
Bradshaw, a junior quarterback, threw a pair of touchdown passes and was 6-for-10 passing for 117 yards.
Corcoran, a freshman linebacker, had seven tackles for a Winona defense that allowed only 188 yards to Crookston.
• Barry Bottino writes a weekly column and a blog about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at BarryOnCampus@hotmail.com, check out his On Campus blog at McHenryCountySports.com and follow him @BarryOnCampus on Twitter.