by Evan Bruner
The North Central College Cardinals won their second Stagg Bowl in the last three seasons, taking down bitter rival Mount Union 28-21 to cap off the program’s first-ever perfect season. The Cardinals delivered the first punch, putting together a six-play, 78-yard scoring drive on the opening possession. North Central never relinquished that lead, as the team led by at least a touchdown for the remainder of the game.
In the final game of his illustrious college career, Gagliardi trophy winner Ethan Greenfield recorded yet another 100+ yard rushing game, finishing with 25 carries for 119 yards and a touchdown. Greenfield also added a 34-yard touchdown catch on the opening drive putting his game total to over 150.
The Cardinals’ offense passed sparingly, but quarterback Luke Lehnen still had his moments. Despite only completing four passes, Lehnen still threw for 141 yards for three touchdowns. Most notably, hitting D’Angelo Hardy for a 94-yard touchdown late in the first half. The sophomore also scrambled for 98 yards, including a 42-yard run with under three minutes left that essentially iced the game for North Central.
Defensively, the Cardinals were able to hold the Raiders’ high-flying offense in check, limiting them to 294 yards of total offense. Linebacker Sam Taviani led the team in total tackles with nine, and Dan Lester, Rich Tyler, and Danny Nuccio all registered a sack. While Mount Union was still able to put up the most points of any North Central opponent this season, it was a far cry from its 43-point-per-game season average.
All in all, the game perfectly encapsulated North Central’s historic 2022 season. Sound play on both sides of the ball and controlling the game wire to wire has become a staple of Cardinals football regardless of the opponent.
The team now waits for decisions from several key contributors to see if they will exercise their fifth year of eligibility. Still, it’s hard to imagine North Central opening the 2023 season as anything other than a massive favorite.