Sometimes, the sequel is just as good as the original. Just ask Monmouth College quarterback Carter Boyer.
“It was a fairy-tale ending,” said Boyer, a fifth-year senior, of Monmouth’s 21-14 victory over St. Norbert in the Cousins Subs Lakefront Bowl on Nov. 18. “It was kind of perfect.”
His head coach, Chad Braun, agreed.
“It’s a heck of a story,” said Braun.
For the second time in his career, Boyer engineered a game-winning touchdown drive in the final seconds to defeat the Green Knights in a critical game. The first time came in 2019 when the unheralded third-string freshman came off the bench in the final minute to lift the Scots to a 10-7 victory in the Midwest Conference championship game. Taking over with just 55 seconds to play and his team 90 yards from the end zone, Boyer marched the offense down the field on five completions, starting with a 50-yarder to Jake Uryasz and ending with the game-winner to Uryasz with just two seconds left.
More late Knight drama
In the Lakefront Bowl sequel, Boyer found himself in a familiar position, with Monmouth starting a drive at its own 3-yard line, down 14-7 with 5:18 remaining. The first order of business was to dial up another big play, as Boyer connected with Nate Thornton on a 51-yard completion.
“It was, ‘Nate, go make a play,’ just like it was with Jake four years ago,” said Boyer.
Five plays later, Monmouth faced a 4th-and-2 from the SNC 20. This time, it was Boyer’s turn to make a play.
“It was a designed run – ‘QB Power’ to the right,” said Boyer. “I got outside, and our tight end, Dylan Bone, made a great block. It was a wide-open hole.”
That long drive tied the score with 2:50 to play, but Boyer wasn’t finished yet.
“I told one of our linebackers, Caleb Endicott, ‘Just give me a minute-thirty,'” said Boyer. “He said, ‘Dude, I got you.’ And dammit, if the defense didn’t give me a minute-forty.”
Defensive lineman Nick Serrano forced a fumble and his line mate, Jeremiah Hardnett, recovered it. Monmouth had the ball at the St. Norbert 28 with 1:43 left.
After McKade Brooks gained 11 yards on the Scots’ first play, “The thought was to milk the clock and kick a field goal to win it, but me and Nate had other ideas,” said Boyer. “That last play, I looked over at Nate, and I gave him a little nod. He knew what to do. After that, I saw the safety rolling his way, so it was going to be double coverage instead of single, but Nate’s a dawg. Nate’s a stud. He Moss’d a kid in the end zone.”
The 17-yard TD catch came with just 34 seconds left.
“The first person I looked over at was Coach (Joe) Freitag, because he and I have been through so much over the years,” said Boyer. “And then I found Nate, and I said, ‘I knew you were going to do that!'”
That made the final pass of Boyer’s collegiate career a game-winning touchdown in a bowl game. Not a lot of players get to say that.
“It was a great way to end it,” he said, recalling that just an hour or so earlier, he was not in a great mood at halftime, with the Scots trailing 7-0. “I was pretty furious about how our offense performed. I think we had less than 100 yards. I thought, ‘We are not that kind of offense.’ But we all came together. In a way, I’m glad it started that way, because it made it that much more of a great way to go out.”
Will there be a Part 3?
Boyer has thrown his last collegiate pass, but he might not be finished at the quarterback position. Through connections Braun has in professional football, Boyer plans to pursue opportunities to continue his gridiron career, potentially overseas or in an arena league.
“I find it hard to believe I’m done,” he said. “I really love the sport, and I hope I can continue.”
He certainly has a good resume. Named first team All-Midwest Conference this season, Boyer threw for 3,009 yards and 26 TDs, adding 449 yards and eight scores on the ground. For his career, he threw for 6,877 yards and 58 TDs, in both categories trailing only Alex Tanney ’11 and Rob Purlee ’04.
Not bad numbers for a kid who only threw about four dozen passes his final year of high school an hour down the road from Monmouth at Illini West.
“I came from a wing-T offense, and my senior year, we only threw about 50 passes,” said Boyer, who led the Chargers to 10 straight victories before the team lost in the second round of the Class 2A playoffs. “This year, in our first game against Wartburg alone, I threw 53 times.”
His final year statistics almost didn’t happen, as Boyer could’ve walked away after four years of college. But in the end, he decided to make up for the season that was lost to COVID.
“I’m so happy with the decision I made,” said Boyer. “A year ago, Jake Uryasz came back and was glad he did, and that factored into my decision. But what really clinched it was a discussion I had with my Dad. I asked him, ‘Do you think it’s smart to go back and pay the money for another semester?’ He told me, ‘You’ve got the rest of your life to work.’ That was a deciding factor.”
Without it, Boyer wouldn’t have experienced his St. Norbert sequel – the one that saw him not as an untested Monmouth freshman but as one of the greatest quarterbacks in the storied history of Fighting Scots football.
***Courtesy of Barry McNamara, Monmouth College***