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Boyer, Thornton Post Career Highs in Season Opening Loss

MONMOUTH, ILL. The Monmouth College football team got within one possession in the fourth quarter but ultimately lost at No. 5 Wartburg 62-35 in the season opener on Saturday night. The Scots had career performances on offense from a number of players and totaled 499 yards on the night against a team that made the NCAA D3 Playoff semifinals last season.

Wartburg got the ball first and they scored on the opening drive for a 7-0 lead. Carter Boyer (Carthage, Illinois) completed a pass to Nate Thornton (Peoria, Illinois) for 13 yards on the first Monmouth drive. The drive stalled at the Scots 46 and Wartburg blocked a punt, returning it for a touchdown and a 13-0 lead. Wartburg turned an interception into another touchdown for a 20-0 lead.

On the next drive, Boyer hit Thornton for 11 yards on third down. Boyer ran for nine yards and McKade Brooks (Astoria, Illinois) ran for 17 to get the Scots into Wartburg territory. Boyer found Jackson Bergren (Monmouth, Illinois) for 18 yards on 4th and 10. Two plays later, Boyer hit Bergren for a 12-yard touchdown pass and Cody Szlec (Riverview, Florida) made the extra point for a 20-7 Wartburg lead.

Monmouth forced a Knights punt and started their first drive of the second quarter on their own 4-yard line. After a 3-and-out and a 21-yard punt, Wartburg started the next drive on the Scots 24. They scored two plays later on a 24-yard run and the extra point made it 27-7. The Scots picked up a first down on the next drive as Boyer completed a 14-yard pass to Brendon Bishop (Sherman, Illinois). The drive stalled at the 39 and Szelc hit a 39-yard punt to flip the field.

Nick Harris (Winter Haven, Florida) ended the Wartburg drive with an interception, the fourth of his Monmouth career. The Scots offense took over on their own 30 but quickly got inside the red zone as Boyer hit Thornton for consecutive 33-yard plays. Freshman Nate Wrublik (Lemont, Illinois) scored on a 4-yard run and Szelc made the extra point for a 27-14 Wartburg lead.

The Scots forced another punt and started a drive on their own 15 with just over 5:00 to play in the half. A 16-yard pass to Thornton moved the chains and a 19-yard pass to Bishop moved the Scots to midfield. The drive kept going to the Wartburg 30 but a 4th and 2 pass with nine seconds left in the half was incomplete. Wartburg took a knee and went to the locker room up 27-14.

Monmouth got the ball to start the second half and picked up a first down before Brooks ran for 31 yards across midfield. On 4th and 4 on the 19, Boyer ran for six yards and a first down. A pass interference penalty moved the ball to the 2 before a sack and a run for no gain. On 4th and 4, Boyer scrambled to his right, evaded the sack and found Brooks in the endzone for a touchdown. Szelc's extra point cut the Wartburg lead to 27-21. The Knights responded with a touchdown, scoring on a 42-yard run but failing on the two-point conversion.

The Scots went three-and-out and the Knights scored for a 39-21 lead. Wartburg got the ball back again on an interception and made a short field goal for a 42-21 lead. The Scots started the fourth quarter with the ball and Boyer found Bergren for 20 yards out to the 45-yard line. A 19-yard pass to Thornton and another for 23 yards to Bishop put the Scots inside the red zone. On 4th and 3, Boyer scored on an 8-yard touchdown run to cut the Wartburg lead to 42-28 with 11:54 to play. The Scots recovered an onside kick as Michael Lord (LaHarpe, Illinois) came up with the ball. Moments later they cut the lead back to one possession on a 59-yard bomb from Boyer to Thornton for a touchdown. But the Knights answered with their own long touchdown pass to go on top 49-35. An interception returned for a touchdown put the hosts up 55-35 but they missed the extra point. After a punt, Wartburg scored again for a 62-35 lead and the Scots were forced to punt the ball again with just under 5:00 to play. Neither team scored again as the Knights ran out the clock for a 62-35 win.

Boyer completed 28 of 53 passes for 370 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. Thornton led the receivers with 10 catches for 212 yards and a touchdown. Bishop caught seven passes for 79 yards while Bergren had six catches for 64 yards and a touchdown. Brooks ran 14 times for 70 yards and caught a touchdown pass. Wrublik ran five times for 16 yards and a touchdown while Boyer ran 10 times for 43 yards and a touchdown.

Jeremiah Glenn-Louis Charles (Bloomington, Illinois) led the Scots with 10 tackles. Marcus Albers (Springfield, Illinois) had eight tackles while Lord had a pass break up. Szelc was 5-for-5 on extra points and averaged 37 yards on five punts, including a career-best 56-yarder.

MONMOUTH MOMENTS: Wartburg leads the all-time series 10-2 and have won the last four against the Scots. Thornton set a new career high with 10 receptions and 212 receiving yards. He has four career 100 yard receiving games and two of at least 200 yards. The 212 yards rank fifth on the Monmouth single-game lis. He has 1,786 career yards, eighth on the Scots list and 98 receptions which rank 16th. Boyer set new career highs for completions (28), attempts (53) and passing yards (370)...He has four career 300-yard games and 11 career multi-TD games. Boyer is the ninth player in school history with at least 4,000 passing yards as he entered the game with 3,868. With 4,258 passing yards, he ranks eighth on the career listHe also attempted his 500th career pass on Saturday, ranking ninth with 503 attempts. Harris also had an interception against the Knights last season. No team had scored more than 17 points on the Knights at home since Loras scored 21 on October 9, 2021. The 35 points are the most scored by an opponent at Wartburg since the 2018 season when Simpson won 37-36 in OT. The points are the most allowed by the Knights in the last 20 games. Monmouth will open Midwest Conference play at home next weekend with the home opener. Kickoff against the University of Chicago is set for 1 p.m. and next weekend is Family Weekend on campus.

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