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2013-11-16 ONU falls 34-7 to #21 St. Xavier on Senior Day
2013 Andrew Muzljakovich (5)

Andrew Muzljakovich finished his career Saturday fourth all-time in Tiger history in scoring and punting yards.

ONU falls 34-7 to No. 21 St. Xavier on Senior Day

Author: Nick Birkey
Posted: Sunday, November 17, 2013 at 7:06 AM

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — The Olivet Nazarene University football team hoped to finish the 2013 season with a statement win on Senior Day against league rival St. Xavier University (Ill.). However, the Tigers couldn’t find a solution to the Cougars on either side of the ball, falling 34-7 on the final weekend of the regular season.

Following an ONU punt on its first drive, the Cougars (7-4, 4-2) scored on their first two possessions, driving an average of 85.5 yards. Nick Pesek ran it in from seven yards, and Ryan Carroll caught a 26-yard reception to make it 13-0. A Ryan Sample (Manteno, Ill.) interception later in the first quarter led to a second Pesek touchdown and a 20-0 deficit.

In his final game as a Tiger, Andrew Muzljakovich (Vicksburg, Mich.) punted for the Tigers (3-8, 1-5)  to start the second quarter, giving the Cougars another chance to score. Pesek ran it in for his third score and a 27-0 lead. Two punts and an ONU turnover on downs, St. Xavier began its final drive of the half with 3:36 to play, but a Spencer Nolan 33-yard attempt was blocked by Lucas Limberg (Rockford, Ill.). 

The Tigers started the second half on a bright note when Ben Backstrom (Chicago, Ill.) intercepted Joe Gill and returned it 21 yards. However, a punt followed on the next possession. St. Xavier’s drive at 10:51 resulted in a Nick DeBendetti 12-yard reception for a score and 34-0 lead.

To begin the fourth quarter, Grant Perkins (Sweetser, Ind.) blocked a Spencer Nolan punt and got it to the Cougar 25-yard line. Five plays later, Michael Ho-Lewis (Boise, Idaho) ran it in from one yard out to make it 34-7. It was his 11th touchdown of the season.

For the Tigers' offense, freshman quarterback Ryan Sample went 6-for-18 for 66 yards and one interception. Zach Gross (Elgin, Ill.) finished with 40 yards on nine carries. Junior running back Michael Ho-Lewis had 26 rushes for 102 yards and the Tigers’ lone score.

ONU’s defense allowed 507 total yards and 27 first downs. They allowed 148 rushing yards and 359 through the air. They finished with 10 for loss (35 yards), one sack for five yards, and had one interception for 21 yards. Junior Brandon Ruemler (Williamsport, Ind.) led the Tigers with 10 tackles, three for loss (nine yards). Junior John Litrenta (Orland Park, Ill.) had eight tackles, one for loss (five yards) and a sack for five yards. Freshman Derrick Hosselton (Manteno, Ill.) had six tackles, and senior Ben Backstrom had five tackles and one interception for 21 yards.

In addition, kicker and punter Andrew Muzljakovich continued to rewrite the record books. With one point on Saturday, he finished his career tied for fourth all-time in scoring (198, Billy Lawrence). In his career, he was 41-of-64 (64.1%) and made 75 PATs. He also had seven punts for 307 yards against St. Xavier, and now has 4,924 for his career — good for fourth on the Tigers' all-time list. He has accumulated 4,924 yards in 124 attempts and averages 39.7 per kick.

Cougars’ quarterback Joe Gill was 35-for-49 for 359 yards and two touchdowns. Nick Pesek rushed 25 times for 146 yards and three touchdowns. Nick Debenedetti caught 11 balls for 142 yards and one touchdown. Ryan Carroll had five receptions for 56 yards and a score.

Boxscore: http://web.olivet.edu/sports/football/stats/2013/onufb11.htm