Nathan Baliva  |  Published December 11, 2023

Scots Rally to Win Lakefront Bowl

For the second consecutive year, the football team won a bowl game, and for the second time in his career, quarterback Carter Boyer led a late rally to defeat St. Norbert. Four years after keying the Scots’ dramatic Midwest Conference title game win over the Green Knights, Boyer brought Monmouth back from a 14-7 fourth-quarter deficit. The 21-14 victory completed the Scots’ 9-2 season.

The Monmouth College football team didn’t score until the third quarter but they rallied past St. Norbert 21-14 to win their second straight Lakefront Bowl on Saturday. The Scots (9-2) scored the go-ahead touchdown with 34 seconds to play for their seventh straight win and Carter Boyer (Carthage, Illinois) was named Lakefront Bowl MVP.

“We fought and battled all game today and finally made some plays down the stretch,” said head coach Chad Braun. “I’m really proud of these guys for fighting the way they did and really happy for our seniors to send them out with a much deserved win.”

The Scots forced a punt on the first St. Norbert drive of the game and took over deep in their own territory. Boyer hit Jackson Bergren (Monmouth, Illinois) down the sideline for a 33-yard game to the SNC 44. Boyer found Nick Obsaint (Naples, Florida) to convert a 3rd down play but eventually the Scots turned the ball over on downs. Both teams punted on their next possession and Anthony Cikauskas (Oswego, Illinois) forced a fumble inside the 10 but the Green Knights recovered. They punted and recovered the ball on a Monmouth muff just shy of midfield. Neither team moved the ball and the first quarter ended scoreless.

The Scots punted on 4th and 1 and the Green Knights picked up a first down before turning the ball over on their own 47. McKade Brooks (Astoria, Illinois) ran for 11 yards but two plays later the Scots fumbled a handoff and St. Norbert recovered on their own 34. Cikauskas had a sack to establish a new single-season team record but the Green Knights bounced back to cross midfield for the first time. Staying on the ground they methodically moved inside the red zone and then scored on 4th and goal from the 1 with 2:05 to play in the half. A penalty extended the next Monmouth drive on a 3rd down play and the Scots moved across midfield with 20 seconds left in the half. However, St. Norbert intercepted Boyer on the 10 yard line and took a knee to end the half.

The Green Knights stopped the Scots on the opening drive of the second half and took the ball down the field to score for a 14-0 lead. Boyer hit Bergren for a huge gain down to the SNC 25 on the first play of the next drive. Brooks picked up 21 yards down to the SNC 2 and Boyer took it into the end zone to cut the SNC lead to 14-7. Cikauskas had another sack on the next Green Knight drive, forcing a punt, but the Scots had to punt as well.

“The kids showed a bunch of heart being down early today and fighting back when we could have folded,” said Braun. “I’m really proud of our guys and how they hung in there going into the fourth and keeping focus.”

Monmouth began the fourth quarter with the ball deep in their own end, down 14-7. Boyer hit Nate Thornton (Peoria, Illinois) for a first down and Nate Wrublik (Lemont, Illinois) ran for five to the Monmouth 30. The Scots crossed midfield but got stopped on 4th and 1 on the SNC 45. The Green Knights had a big pass play on 3rd down and moved into the red zone on the next play. The Scots forced a turnover in the end zone on 4th down as Caleb Endicott (St. Cloud, Florida) came down with the ball after a pass break up by Nick Harris (Winter Haven, Florida). The Scots went 3-and-out and Cody Szelc (Riverview, Florida) punted it back to the Green Knights at their own 30. The Scots got the ball back inside their own 10 and Boyer hit Thornton out to midfield for a big gain. A pass to Bergren moved the ball to the SNC 40 and a pass interference penalty added 15 yards. On 4th and short, Boyer ran for a 20-yard touchdown and Szlec’s extra point tied the game 14-14 with 2:50 to play.

The Green Knights moved the ball to their own 33 and called timeout with 1:54 to play. Nick Serrano (Miami, Florida) forced a fumble and Jeremiah Hardnett (Fairview Heights, Illinois) recovered on the SNC 29. Wrublik ran for 11 yards and two plays later, Boyer hit Thornton in the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown with 34 seconds to play. SNC started on their own 24 and picked up a first down through the air with 22 seconds left. After two incomplete passes, Harris intercepted SNC’s hail mary to ice the game and a 21-14 win.

“I’ve said before it is never a bad idea to just throw it up to 12 (Thornton) and that proved to be the case at the end of the game,” said Braun.

Boyer was 14-for-27 for 257 yards and a touchdown while also rushing for two scores. Brooks ran for 62 yards. Thornton caught six passes for 117 yards and a touchdown while Bergren caught six passes for 115 yards.

Defensively, Tanner Tomaschke (Greenville, Illinois) had nine tackles to lead the Scots. Cikauskas had six tackles, four TFL, two sacks and a forced fumble.

MONMOUTH MOMENTS: The teams last met in 2019 when Monmouth won both the regular season matchup and the MWC Championships Game…Boyer moved into a tie for fifth in games played by a quarterback at 37 and moved into a tie for fourth with Mark Reed for QB wins at 22…Boyer passed Tanner Matlick for fourth in passing attempts and tied Matlick for third in passing touchdowns…He also tied Jon Baike for fourth in rushing touchdowns by a quarterback…Thornton moved past Kyle Wantland for fourth on the career receptions list and tied Matt Shepherd for third in receiving touchdowns.Cikauskas had two sacks to get to 17 on the season, breaking the single-season record of 16 set by Korbyn Personett in 2021…He also tied Personett’s single-season TFL record (26) and tied the single-season record with five forced fumbles…With six career forced fumbles, Cikauskas is second in Monmouth history…Cikauskas moved into a tie for 10th on the career TFL list with 33.5…Harris is now 11th on the career pass break up list…Boyer moved into a tie for fifth on the single-season list for rushing TD by a quarterback and fifth on the rushing yards by a QB…He also moved into seventh on the passing TD single-season list…Thornton moved into fifth on the single-season receiving yards list and sixth on the touchdowns list…Bergren is seventh on the single-season receiving yards list.

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