Story and photo courtesy of Washington Athletics
CHICAGO, Ill. - The Washington University in St. Louis football team claimed the outright University Athletic Association (UAA) Championship and retained possession of the Founders Cup with a 23-7 victory at the University of Chicago on Saturday afternoon in the Windy City.
Washington U.’s defense was superb for the fourth-straight game – forcing four turnovers (three interceptions, one fumble) and five punts in the win. The Bears’ defense allowed 30 points (7.5 ppg) and 1,004 yards of total offense (251 ypg) during the four-game win streak to end the season. Junior defensive lineman Seth Wight led the defensive unit with a career-high six tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack and on forced fumble.
The Bears offense piled up a season-high 489 yards of total offense in the win. In the last two victories over the Maroons, Washington U. has averaged 489.5 yards of total offense. Junior quarterback Eric Daginella improved to 5-1 as the starting signal caller for the Bears completing 18-of-32 yards for a career-high 236 yards and a TD. Daginella’s favorite target was sophomore wide receiver Tim Bartholomew, who hauled in a career-best six catches for 116 yards.
Washington U. also had success running the football against the Maroons, picking a season-high 247 yards on 47 carries. That marked the most rushing yards since Nov. 7, 2009 – 300 yards in a 44-37 win over Chicago. Junior John Hagemann led the rushing attack with a career-high 86 yards on 15 carries, while sophomore Zach Lonnemann (eight carries, 46 yards) and senior quarterback Dan Burkett (three carries, 43 yards) also had success running the football.
Washington U. scored on its first possession of the game after sophomore Ryan Lubatkin ran it in from 15 yards out to make it 6-0. The extra point was unsuccessful to keep it a six-point game. Neither team would score until the second quarter, when Chicago tight end Brandon Meckelberg hauled in a four-yard TD pass from Vincent Cortina to make it 7-6 with 14:57 before half.
Freshman Alex Hallwachs regained the lead for good midway through the second quarter with a 42-yard field goal to make it 9-7. After a 90-minute lightning delay, Daginella capped a six-play, 66-yard drive with an 11-yardtouchdown pass to Lubatkin with five seconds remaining in the half to push the advantage to 16-7.
The lone score of the second half came midway through the fourth quarter, when Hagemann found the end zone from two-yards out to make it 23-7. Chicago had six possessions in the second half, and was forced to punt two times and was picked off twice. Junior defensive back Andrew Skalman recorded his team-leading fifth interception in the fourth quarter and finished the year with a UAA-best 19 passes defended.
Freshman punter Alex Stankemade his collegiate debut and punted three times with a 44.7 average with a long of 50. Saturday’s contest marked the final game for 13 seniors on the Washington U. squad. The Class of 2013 had an overall record of 22-18 (.550), and won its final four games.