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Knights clinch automatic qualifier with 35-22 win at MacMurray on Saturday

Information courtesy of MLC Athletics

JACKSONVILLE, Ill. — The Martin Luther College football team clinched at least a share of its second consecutive Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) championship and the league’s automatic qualifier into the NCAA Division III Championships with a 35-22 win at MacMurray on Saturday.

The Knights took control of the game from the start, racing to a 14-0 lead thanks to touchdown runs by Joshuah Kren (17 yards) and Ethan Aguilar (20 yards), while the defense and special teams forced two MacMurray turnovers in its first three possessions.

After a Highlander score, Kren added another 10-yard rushing score before MacMurray closed the half with a touchdown to cut the MLC lead to 21-14 at the half.

MLC raced out of the locker room to another fast start in the second half, as Austin DeNoyer ran for a 48-yard touchdown on the opening play of the third quarter, and Aguilar added a three-yard touchdown pass to Mike Radue later in the period to put the game away.

The ground game was once again the key for the Knights as they ran for a season-high 429 yards. DeNoyer led the team with 173 rushing yards and one score, pushing him over the 1,000 yard mark for the second consecutive season. DeNoyer’s 1,081 rushing yards are only 5 shy of his MLC single-season record set last season. He also moved into fourth place in program history with 2,167 rushing yards in just two seasons.

Kren also continued his strong season on the ground with 147 yards and two scores, while Aguilar finished with 73 rushing yards.

Ian Paulsen led the defensive effort with 12 total tackles, including one tackle for loss and one pass break-up. Ben Riegsecker added eight tackles and one interception, while Joe Herrewig and Ben Arndt also intercepted passes on the day. In total, the defense held the Highlanders to 299 yards and forced four turnovers.

MLC improved to 8-1 on the season and 7-0 in UMAC play with the win. MacMurray fell to 4-5 overall and 4-3 in league play in defeat.

The Knights pushed their conference winning streak to 15 straight games with the win and secured their second-ever trip to the NCAA Division III Championships.

The Knights will finish the regular season at Crown College on Saturday, November 16.

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