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Monmouth vs Knox! Live Stream

November 5, 2011

Much will be at stake, but for different reasons, when Monmouth College and Knox College meet for the 123rd time Saturday. 
The Fighting Scots will be aiming for their third outright Midwest Conference title in four years while the Prairie Fire will try to avoid a winless season when the teams kickoff at 1 p.m. on Bobby Woll Field at April Zorn Memorial Stadium. Monmouth holds a 62-50-10 lead in the second-longest rivalry west of the Alleghany Mountains, the third-longest in Division III and the sixth-longest in all of NCAA football. The Scots have won the last dozen Bronze Turkey games and have scored at least 40 points in the last seven contests.
“It’s a great game to play in because of the history and tradition of the rivalry,” said Scots coach Steve Bell. “We stress to our players to respect the game and the historical significance of the players who came before them. It’s always intense when pride is on the line.”
Also on the line for the Scots is the outright conference crown – their fourth since 2005. A loss coupled with an Illinois College win over Beloit Saturday would tie the Scots with IC for the league crown. Monmouth would win the head-to-head tie-breaker by virtue of the Scots’ win over the Blueboys in Week 4 and earn the NCAA playoff berth, but the Scots are not in the mood to share.
Knox would like nothing better than to help IC’s chances at a share of the crown if it means handing their rivals to the west their first league loss.
The Prairie Fire may be a team on the verge. They’ve been able to put points on the board this season and nearly staged a come-from-behind win last week before falling 31-27 to Lake Forest. Sophomore quarterback Drew Diaz scampered for touchdowns of 15 and 16 yards to rally the Fire to a three-point lead with less than five minutes remaining, but Lake Forest answered with an eight-play, 71-yard drive to notch the win.
Monmouth needed no such comeback in last week’s 69-14 win over Carroll. The Scots scored on their first seven possessions and put more than 40 points on the board before halftime. Alex Tanney set the all-divisions NCAA record with his 150th career touchdown pass and Matt Batton’s 14 kicking points equaled the Pioneers’ total scoring output. The Scots’ defense brought their best game of the season, holding Carroll to just 207 yards.
The Fighting Scots’ offense has been very difficult to stop. They lead Division III with 551 yards of offense per game and they’re No. 2 in passing offense (335 ypg) and scoring average (48.56). Wide receiver Mike Blodgett’s 146 receiving yards per outing ranks him second nationally.
Knox has their own national stats man in linebacker Mike Hendrick. The 6-foot-3, 212 pound junior has posted a whopping 140 tackles this season. He’s ranked third in the nation with more than 15 tackles per game.
The Prairie Fire also has a potent 1-2 punch in running back Derek Mortensen and wide receiver Clarke Cuthbert. Mortensen – a sophomore – has nearly half of the Fire’s carries and yards. A 6-foot-1 senior, Cuthbert has twice as many receptions and yards as the next closest Fire receiver.
“Knox is playing well right now,” said Bell. “Their quarterback is a tough athlete to defend. Cuthbert is a very crafty receiver. He’s a real veteran and knows how to get open. He’s very football smart.”
Of course, the Scots have some “football smart” players themselves. Tanney – ranked third in the division for pass efficiency – needs 325 yards (three more than his season average) to break the DIII passing record of 13,605 yards set by Josh Vogelbach of Guildford. But that’s not the only Monmouth mark that could go down. Eight other records are within reach. Among the notables: sophomore running back Trey Yocum needs just one TD to break Hall of Famer Charlie Corle’s 1968 season record of 19 touchdowns. He also needs one more 100-yard rushing day to tie the season record of eight set by another Hall of Famer, Ron Baker, who set the standard in 1974. With one reception, Blodgett will set the new standard for consecutive games with a catch. He’s tied with former teammate Matt Shepherd at 42. Eight receptions would move Blodgett to the top spot over Shepherd’s season record of 96 catches.
“There have been some tremendous athletes to have played in this game,” said Bell. “Everyone needs to give this game all the respect it deserves and bring their best game. If there’s one thing you want to be able to say after the game, it’s that you played your best in this one.”
 
Dan Nolan
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