GALESBURG, Illinois—The Prairie Fire football team is off to their best start since 2002 after coming out victorious in an absolute battle against Ripon College. Knox is now 3-0 for the first time in 15 years, and the win was also their first over Ripon since 1987.
The Fire wasted almost no time scoring the first points of the game. On 2nd and 8, Knox drew the Red Hawks offside resulting in a free play where Matt McCaffrey found Malik Hamilton streaking down the sideline past the Ripon secondary to put the Fire up 7-0 after just 48 seconds of play. From then on out it was a defensive battle for both teams, they would go back and forth for the rest of the first quarter until late in the second quarter when Ripon threatened to score with just over 7 minutes left in the half. On the ensuing play, the Fire burst through the line to block the field goal attempt, bringing it all the way to the Ripon 44 yard line. Three plays later McCaffrey found Hamilton for the second time on the afternoon to put Knox up 13-0 heading into halftime.
With just over six minutes left in the 3rd quarter, Ripon attempted to mount a comeback after a touchdown made it 13-6. Ripon was threatening to score again midway through the 4th quarter when they attempted a fake field goal pass, but it was intercepted by Isaiah Smith in the end zone to give the Fire the momentum they needed to seal the game. Ripon had one final shot with just over a minute left but, the Fire defense held strong.
The defense was held down by Logan Hollis, Quinn Sharp, Beau Gabel, and Cody Hipp who led the way with 6 total tackles each. Cody Hipp added a sack and Donnye Sommerville broke up two passes.
Offensively, Matt McCaffrey finished 14-of-21 for 176 yards and 2 touchdowns; he also led the team in rushing with 41 yards. Malik Hamilton caught two passes for 95 yards to lead in receiving.
The Fire are 3-0 and will look to continue their hot streak to start the season when they travel to St. Norbert College on September 30.